The Government has demanded that countries in the EU reciprocate its plans on how to handle the question of EU citizens in the UK and UK citizens in the EU after Brexit.
Just two weeks after Mrs May published the Chequers agreement, in which she laid out her plans for the country’s future relationship with the bloc, the Withdrawal Agreement and Implementation Bill, which is now known as the EU (Withdrawal Agreement) Bill, will set into law the majority of the arrangements we have agreed with the European Union.
The 3.5 million EU citizens living in the UK will be offered ‘continued right of residence’, also known as ‘settled status’, if they are lawfully residing in the UK on 31 December 2020. The Bill also establishes an independent monitoring authority to ensure that both sides keep to their end of the bargain.
But in his statement to the House of Commons, the Secretary of State for Exiting the EU, Dominic Raab (pictured above) told the House: “All EU Member States must implement the Agreement in full and provide certainty to UK nationals on the continent, and, as the Home Secretary recently stated, we now need to know more of the details on how each Member State will fulfill their obligations and implement their side of the agreement. And we will be pressing further on those details over the summer.”
He said that most of the Withdrawal Agreement, according to the EU side, around 80%, had now been agreed with the bloc, and outstanding issues have been isolated “for further focused negotiation”, adding that the White Paper published today focuses on those parts of the Withdrawal Agreement where the text is already agreed.
The White Paper confirms that the Bill will be the primary means by which the rights of EU citizens will be implemented and protected in UK law. It will amend some parts of the EU (Withdrawal) Act to ensure that our statute book functions correctly during the time-limited implementation period, and will create a financial authority to manage the specific payments to be made under the financial settlement, with appropriate Parliamentary oversight.
On the ‘divorce bill’, Mr Raab reminded the House – and the EU – that ‘nothing is agreed until everything is agreed’. “There must be a firm commitment in the Withdrawal Agreement requiring the framework for the future relationship to be translated into legal text as soon as possible,” he said. “It is one part of the whole deal we are doing with our EU partners. And of course, if one party fails to honour its side of the overall bargain, there will be consequences for the deal as a whole, and that includes the financial settlement.”
Mr Raab added that there is an obligation for both parties to act in good faith through the application of the Withdrawal Agreement.
Negotiators on both sides will continue to work through the points of the Withdrawal Agreement that have yet to be agreed and will provide more details in the future on how these will work. These include the question over the border between Northern Ireland and the Republic.
“This White Paper on the EU (Withdrawal Agreement) Bill explains the pragmatic approach we are taking to legislating for our Withdrawal Agreement, including the time-limited implementation period that we agreed with the EU in March,” he said.
“It also provides further certainty at home and in the negotiations that the UK is getting on with the job of delivering a smooth and orderly Brexit while giving Parliamentarians an opportunity to consider the detail of the EU (Withdrawal Agreement) Bill before it is introduced.
“We look forward to working with MPs and peers on this crucial piece of legislation which will give effect to our exit Treaty in law.”
He explained that from the 30th of March 2019 until the 31st of December 2020, common rules would remain in place, with EU law continuing to apply, and businesses would be able to trade on the same terms as they do now.
“During this period we will not be a Member State and will have the flexibility we need to strike new trade deals around the world, something many argued we would not be able to achieve in the negotiations,” he said, adding that it was necessary for Parliament to ensure that UK laws reflect EU laws as they apply to the UK during this period.
The White Paper also has details of the parts of the European Communities Act that must be in place until the end of December 2020, but these will be time-limited and will expire on that date.
He confirmed that Parliament would have its say on the final deal and expected that the legislation could be in place for when Brexit day, the 29th of March 2019.
Mr Raab said he would be meeting the EU’s chief negotiator Michel Barnier on Thursday of this week and expected that an agreement with the bloc would be reached by October. The Bill “sends a clear signal to the European Union that the United Kingdom is a reliable dependable, negotiating partner, delivering on the commitments it has made across the negotiating table”, he said.