December 2017 Agreement in Principle

A Joint report was concluded in December 2017 following the first stage of negotiations between the EU and UK. Both parties reaffirmed in the joint report, their commitment to peace, stability and reconciliation and for that purpose to the protection of the Good Friday Agreement including the practical application of the agreement on the Island on Ireland and the totality of relationships set out in the agreement.

The UK confirmed its commitment to protect the Agreement including subsequent implementation agreements and arrangements and to the effective and proper operation the institutions and bodies established under them and its commitment to the avoidance of hard border including any physical infrastructure or related checks and controls.

Both parties recognised the need to respect the 1998 Agreement including the provisions in respect of the Constitutional status of Northern Ireland as part of the UK and the principle that it could be altered only with the consent of the majority of the people in Northern Ireland.

The United Kingdom respects Ireland’s ongoing membership of the EU with its rights and obligations, including its place in the internal market and customs union.

The commitments in principle set out below will not pre-determine the outcome of wider discussions on the future relationship between UK and EU and are as necessary, specific to the unique circumstances of the Island of Ireland. There are made and must be upheld in all circumstances irrespective to if the nature of any future agreement between the UK and EU

North-South Cooperation

The parties recognise co-operation between Ireland and Northern Ireland as a central part of the Agreement and that it is necessary for achieving reconciliation and normalisation of relations. The UK and EU record the roles function and safeguards of Northern Ireland Executive, Northern Ireland Assembly and the North-South Ministerial Council.

The two parties confirmed having undertaken a mapping exercise which shows that North-South cooperation relies to a significant extent on a common EU legal and policy framework such that the UK’s depart from the EU, gives rise to substantial challenges to the maintenance and development of North-South co-operation.

The UK confirms that it remains committed to protecting and supporting continued North South and East West co-operation across the full range of political, economic, security, societal and agriculture context and in the framework of co-operation including the continued operation of the North side implementation bodies.

The United Kingdom confirms this commitment to protecting North-South co-operation and its guarantee to avoid a hard border. The United Kingdom’s intention is to achieve these objectives through the overall EU UK relationship. Should this not be possible, the United Kingdom will propose specific solutions to address the unique circumstances of the Island of Ireland.

In the absence of agreed solutions, the United Kingdom will maintain full alignment with those rules of the internal market and customs union which now and in the future support North-South e co-operation, the all-island economy and the protection of the 1998 Agreement.

Backstop

In the absence of agreed solutions, the United Kingdom will ensure that no new regulatory barriers develop between Northern Ireland and the rest of United Kingdom unless consistent with the 1998 Agreement, the Assembly and Executive agree that the distinct arrangements are appropriate for Northern Ireland. In all circumstances, the United Kingdom will continue to ensure the same unfettered access for Northern Ireland’s business to the whole of the United Kingdom market.

Both parties agree to establish mechanisms to ensure the implementation and oversight of any specific arrangement to safeguard the integrity of the EU internal market and the customs union.

Both parties acknowledge that the Belfast Agreement recognise that the birthright of all persons of Northern Ireland to choose to be British, Irish or both. People of Northern Ireland who are Irish citizens will continue to enjoy EU citizenship including where they reside in Northern Ireland.

The Withdrawal Agreement should respect and would be without prejudice to the rights, opportunities, and identity that come with European Union citizenships for such persons.  The EU and UK agree that in the next phase of negotiations they will examine arrangement to give effect to the ongoing exercise of and access to the EU rights, opportunities, and benefits.

The United Kingdom commits to ensure that there will be no diminution of rights, safeguards and equality protects for which EU law and practices have provided a supporting framework by the departure from the European Union. The European Union commits to facilitating the related work of the institutions and bodies established by the Belfast agreement in upholding human rights and equality standards.

The parties recognise that the UK and Ireland may continue to make arrangements between themselves relating to the movement of persons between their territories (the Common Travel Area) while fully respecting the rights of persons conferred the EU law. The UK confirms and accepts that the Common Travel Area and associated rights and privileges can continue to operate without affecting Ireland’s obligations under EU law, in particular in respect of the free movement of EU citizens.

Both parties agreed to honour their commitments to the PEACE and INTERREG funding programs under the current multiannual financial framework. The possibilities for future support will be examined favourably.

Given the specific nature of issues related to Ireland and Northern Ireland, and on the basis of the principles and commitments set out, both parties agree that the second phase of negotiations will continue on the detailed arrangements required to give effect to them. Such work will also address issues arising from Ireland’s unique geographical situation including the transit of goods from Ireland via the United Kingdom in line with the European Council Guideline April 2017.

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