Brexit: Negotiators Agree To A 21-Month Transition Process

Sophie Lionnet

That accord is now likely to be endorsed by leaders of the other 27 European Union member states at a summit on Friday, a day after they have met Ms May herself in Brussels.

The question will remain as to whether negotiations on the future trade partnership between Britain and the European Union, which are expected to start only next month after European Union leaders endorse Barnier's negotiating guidelines on Friday, can produce results - and quickly enough to avoid having language in the withdrawal treaty that Britain, and May's Belfast allies, cannot accept.

The resolution setting out the European Parliament's view ahead of 22-23 March summit of EU heads of state or government was adopted during last plenary session.

European Union businesses have been lobbying their respective national leaders for more clarity, more certainty and, crucially, more time - to get their Brexit ducks in a row.

Davis however denied that Britain had backed down, saying it was still pushing for a solution as part of a trade deal which would mean there was no need for the backstop.

With the issue threatening to stall agreement on the transition period, a deal, however had been struck, Barnier told reporters. "With that said, both sides should commit now to a finite adjustment period once a new trade agreement has been finalised, as is the case for most trade deals".

The two sides have reached "complete agreement" on citizens rights and the divorce bill, but the Irish border continues to remain unsolved.

The transition period is expected to end at midnight on December 31, 2020.

Asked whether Britain had sold out, the spokesman said it was a negotiation that involved "give and take on both sides".

"We agree today that the backstop solution must form part of the legal text of the withdrawal agreement", Barniers said.

Today is another important step after December's milestone accord.

The pound rose as much as 1 percent against the dollar to $1.4088 GBP=D3, its strongest since February 16. The mood was nearly joyous when the 138-page draft agreement appeared in the background and Barnier explained the unusual colour coded system.

"The period of transition requested by the United Kingdom will be a time which is useful, very useful, for the United Kingdom administration and businesses in order to prepare themselves for the future", Barnier said.

Davis said global agreements would continue to apply to Britain now and during the transition period after Brexit takes place in 2019.

In today's deal, there's an "emergency" option that could see Northern Ireland (which is part of the UK) keep European Union laws if no other deal could be reached.

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