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The EU-UK Withdrawal Agreement Explained: What You Need to Know

After years of negotiations and debates, the United Kingdom officially left the European Union on January 31, 2020. However, the departure did not mean an immediate end to the relationship between the two entities. Instead, a Withdrawal Agreement was put in place to manage the transition period until the end of 2020. But what exactly is the EU-UK Withdrawal Agreement, and what does it entail?

The Withdrawal Agreement is a legally binding treaty that covers several aspects of the UK`s departure. Its main purpose is to provide a framework for the UK and EU to navigate the transition period and establish their long-term relationship. It also sets out the terms of the UK`s financial settlement, citizens` rights, and the Northern Ireland Protocol.

Financial Settlement

The Withdrawal Agreement stipulates that the UK must settle its financial obligations to the EU over a period of time. This includes contributions to the EU budget, pension liabilities, and other outstanding bills. The total amount is estimated to be around £39 billion.

Citizens` Rights

One of the most crucial aspects of the Withdrawal Agreement is the protection of citizens` rights. The agreement guarantees that the rights of EU citizens living in the UK and UK citizens living in the EU will be preserved. This includes the right to work, study, and access healthcare. It also covers family members of EU citizens and UK citizens who are living in the EU.

Northern Ireland Protocol

The Northern Ireland Protocol is a unique arrangement that aims to prevent a hard border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. The protocol creates a customs border in the Irish Sea, where goods entering Northern Ireland from Great Britain will be subject to EU regulations. It also allows Northern Ireland to remain in the EU`s single market for goods, ensuring that businesses in Northern Ireland can continue trading with both the UK and EU.

Future Relationship

Although the Withdrawal Agreement provides a framework for the UK and EU to operate during the transition period, it does not determine their future relationship. Negotiations for a comprehensive free trade agreement are ongoing, and the Withdrawal Agreement includes provisions to extend the transition period beyond December 31, 2020, if necessary.

Conclusion

The EU-UK Withdrawal Agreement is a complex document that covers several critical aspects of the UK`s departure from the European Union. It provides a framework for the UK and EU to navigate the transition period, guaranteeing citizens` rights, creating a customs border in the Irish Sea, and settling financial obligations. While it is not a comprehensive trade agreement, it paves the way for future negotiations and the establishment of a new relationship between the UK and the EU.