UK’s Withdrawal from the EU – Will the British Future be better or bitter? European leaders meet in Brussels at a special summit to approve a historic agreement on UK’s withdrawal from the EU, which will offer a “better future” for the United Kingdom, according to its PM – Theresa May.
This unprecedented “treaty of withdrawal”, negotiated in pain for 17 months between London and Brussels, will however still have to pass the test of ratification of the European Parliament and especially that of the British Parliament before coming into force on March 29, 2019.
“This is an agreement for a better future, which allows us to seize the opportunities that await us,” pleaded in a text released Sunday the British Prime Minister, arriving Saturday night in Brussels.
The summit, threatened by a standoff over the future of Gibraltar settled at the last minute, will see first the leaders of the EU countries meet at 27 Sunday morning, without the United Kingdom, to approve the treaty divorce, a pavé of nearly 600 pages.
“Friends will remain friends until the end,” tweeted European Council President Donald Tusk on Saturday evening, before an interview with the conservative leader, citing a song by singer Freddie Mercury.
“Nobody wanted to defeat anyone, we were all looking for a fair and equitable agreement, and I think we finally found the best possible compromise,” he wrote in the letter of invitation to the summit, rejoicing that the 27 have “passed the test of unity and solidarity”.
This unit, however, has cracked in recent days, when Spain has threatened the cancellation of the summit if it does not obtain written guarantees on the fate of Gibraltar.
Madrid has received written guarantees from the EU to have a veto right over any future agreement between the EU and the UK regarding Gibraltar, a British territory located at the southernmost tip of the Iberian Peninsula, and of which Spain claims sovereignty. And Spain also believes that it has received sufficient assurances from the UK authorities that future London agreements with the EU would not automatically include Gibraltar.
The other member States had raised concerns at the end of the negotiations and called for additional safeguards in certain areas, such as future fishing rights in British territorial waters.
This subject, dear to France, has not been resolved in the withdrawal treaty, which provides that it will be necessary to conclude an agreement no later than mid-2020. But “there will be a statement in the minutes of the European Council that will say that it is a priority topic” for 27, said a diplomatic source.
This statement will also address other issues on which the 27 pledge to be “vigilant” vis-à-vis London in the implementation of their agreements, such as that of the “fair competition” necessary in the field economic.
The EU and the United Kingdom have spent 17 months agreeing on the UK’s “withdrawal treaty” and the “political declaration” that sets the framework for their post-Brexit relations, particularly in the area of trade.
The withdrawal agreement settles the question of the bill that London will pay to the EU, without quantifying it, and provides for a controversial solution to avoid as a last resort the return of a physical border between Ireland and the British province Northern Ireland.