The  Union  and  the  United  Kingdom:

Reiterate  the  parties’  wish  to  establish  a  future  partnership  that  is  as  close  and  strong  as  possible,   given  the  global  challenges  they  share,  and  underline  their  commitment  to  embark  on  preparations   immediately  after  the  signature  of  the  Withdrawal  Agreement  to  ensure  that  negotiations  on  the   future  relationship  can  start  as  soon  as  possible  after  the  United  Kingdom’s  withdrawal.

Recall  the  exchange  of  letters  of  14  January  2019  between  the  Presidents  of  the  European  Council   and  of  the  European  Commission,  and  the  Prime  Minister  of  the  United  Kingdom  of  Great  Britain  and   Northern  Ireland,  and  the  clarifications  set  out  therein.

Recall  that  the  parties  do  not  wish  the  backstop  solution  in  the  Protocol  on  Ireland/Northern  Ireland   to  become  applicable,  that  were  it  to  do  so  it  would  represent  a  suboptimal  trading  arrangement  for   both  sides,  and  that  both  parties  are  therefore  determined  to  replace  the  backstop  solution  for   Northern  Ireland  by  a  subsequent  agreement  that  would  ensure,   on  a  permanent  footing,  the   absence  of  a  hard  border  on  the  island  of  Ireland,  in  full  respect  of  the  integrity  of  the  Union’s   internal  market  and  of  the  territorial  integrity  of  the  United  Kingdom.
Underline  that  the  Protocol  on  Ireland/Northern  Ireland  will  be  subject  to  regular  reviews  in  order  for   the  Parties  to  consider  whether  that  Protocol  is  still  necessary  or  could  cease  to  apply  in  whole  or  in   part.

Recall  that  after  the  end  of  the  transition  period,  any  dispute  concerning  compliance  with  Article  5  of   the  Withdrawal  Agreement,  Articles  2(1)  and  20  of  the  Protocol  on  Ireland  /  Northern  Ireland  will  be   subject  to  the  dispute  settlement  mechanism  enshrined  in  Articles  167  to  181  of  the  Withdrawal   Agreement.

Note  that  this  instrument  provides,  in  the  sense  of  Article  31  of  the  Vienna  Convention  on  the  Law  of   Treaties,  a  clear  and  unambiguous  statement  by  both  parties  to  the  Withdrawal  Agreement  of  what   they  agreed  in  a  number  of  provisions  of  the  Withdrawal  Agreement,  including  the  Protocol  on   Ireland/Northern  Ireland.  Therefore,  it  constitutes  a  document  of  reference  that  will  have  to  be   made  use  of  if  any  issue  arises  in  the  implementation  of  the  Withdrawal  Agreement.  To  this  effect,  it   has  legal  force  and  a  binding  character.

Negotiations  on  the  future  agreement  and  replacement  of  the  Protocol  in  whole  or  in  part

1. The  Union  and  the  United  Kingdom  recall  their  commitment  to  ensure,  in  full  mutual  respect   and  good  faith,  the  fulfilment  of  the  obligations  arising  from  the  Withdrawal  Agreement.

2. The  preamble  of  the  Protocol  on  Ireland/Northern  Ireland  (“the  Protocol”)  records  the   “Union’s  and  the  United  Kingdom’s  intention  to  replace  the  backstop  solution  on  Northern   Ireland  by  a  subsequent  agreement  that  establishes  alternative  arrangements  for  ensuring  the   absence  of  a  hard  border  on  the  island  of  Ireland  on  a  permanent  footing”,  while  protecting   the  integrity  of  the  Union’s  internal  market  and  the  territorial  integrity  of  the  United  Kingdom.

3. Article  2(1)  of  the  Protocol  contains  the  obligation  for  the  Union  and  the  United  Kingdom  to   “use  their  best  endeavours  to  conclude,  by  31  December  2020,  an  agreement  which   supersedes  this  Protocol  in  whole  or  in  part”.

4. The  Union  and  the  United  Kingdom  consider  that,  for  example,  a  systematic  refusal  to  take   into  consideration  adverse  proposals  or  interests,  would  be  incompatible  with  their  obligations   under  Article  2(1)  of  the  Protocol  and  Article  5  of  the  Withdrawal  Agreement.

5. In  light  of  their  obligation  under  Article  2(1)  of  the  Protocol,  the  Union  and  the  United  Kingdom   will  start  negotiations  on  a  subsequent  agreement  as  soon  as  possible  after  the  United   Kingdom’s  withdrawal  from  the  Union.  Those  negotiations  should  be  conducted  as  a  matter  of   priority,  and  efforts  redoubled  should  the  negotiations  not  be  concluded  within  1  year  from   the  date  of  the  United  Kingdom’s  withdrawal.

6. In  order  to  enable  the  rapid  commencement  of  and  progress  in  those  formal  negotiations,  the   Union  and  the  United  Kingdom  commit,  in  line  with  paragraphs  141  to  143  of  the  political   declaration  agreed  between  them  in  November  2018,  to  embark  on  preparations  for  those   negotiations  immediately  after  signature  of  the  Withdrawal  Agreement,  including  by  setting  up   their  respective  negotiating  structures  and  discussing  logistical  arrangements.  The  Union  and   the  United  Kingdom  are  therefore  committed  to  working  speedily  on  a  subsequent  agreement   that  establishes  by  31  December  2020  alternative  arrangements,  so  that  the  backstop  will  not   need  to  be  triggered.

7. The  Union  and  the  United  Kingdom  further  agree  to  establish,  immediately  following  the   ratification  of  the  Withdrawal  Agreement,  a  negotiating  track  for  replacing  the  customs  and   regulatory  alignment  in  goods  elements  of  the  Protocol  with  alternative  arrangements.  That   negotiating  track,  referred  to  in  the  joint  statement  supplementing  the  political  declaration,   will  include,  inter  alia,  consideration  of  comprehensive  customs  cooperation  arrangements,   facilitative  arrangements  and  technologies.  By  virtue  of  being  embedded  in  the  overall   negotiation  structure,  the  negotiating  track  on  alternative  arrangements  will  be  able  to  take   account  of  progress  made  in  the  wider  negotiations  on  the  future  relationship,  in  particular  on   goods  regulations  and  customs.

8. In  accordance  with  paragraph  147  of  the  political  declaration,  a  high  level  conference  will  be   convened  at  least  every  six  months  from  the  date  of  the  United  Kingdom’s  withdrawal  from   the  Union  to  take  stock  of  progress  and  agree,  as  far  as  is  possible  between  them,  actions  to   move  forward.  In  order  to  ensure  that  a  subsequent  agreement  can  enter  into  force  by  the  end   of  the  transition  period,  the  Union  and  the  United  Kingdom  consider  it  important  to  review  the   progress  on  alternative  arrangements  at  every  high  level  conference,  alongside  wider  progress   on  the  future  relationship.  In  light  of  those  considerations,  the  United  Kingdom,  in  line  with   Article  3  of  the  Protocol,  may  request  an  extension  of  the  transition  period  to  allow  further   time  for  the  future  relationship  and  the  subsequent  agreement  to  be  finalised.

9. With  a  view  to  rapidly  addressing  any  substantive  obstacles  that  could  delay  or  risk  progress,   the  Union  and  the  United  Kingdom  also  agree  to  convene  immediately,  upon  the  request  of   either  party  and  at  short  notice,  additional  extraordinary  high-­‐level  conferences  at  any   moment.
10. A  subsequent  agreement  replacing  the  customs  and  regulatory  alignment  in  goods  elements  of   the  Protocol  could  stand  alone  or  form  part  of  a  wider  agreement  or  agreements  on  the  future   relationship,  depending  on  the  progress  of  the  wider  negotiations.  Alternative  arrangements,   which  supersede  the  Protocol  in  whole  or  in  part,  in  accordance  with  Article  2  of  the  Protocol,   are  not  required  to  replicate  its  provisions  in  any  respect,  provided  that  the  underlying   objectives  continue  to  be  met.  In  the  event  that  the  agreement  needs  to  stand  alone  due  to   delays  in  progress  on  the  wider  negotiations,  the  parties  will  aim  at  establishing  this   agreement  very  rapidly  after  the  end  of  the  transition  period  in  full  respect  of  the  parties’   respective  legal  orders.

11. The  Union  and  the  United  Kingdom  agree  that  once  negotiations  on  alternative  arrangements   have  been  completed  to  the  satisfaction  of  both  parties,  the  outcome  will  be  transposed  into  a   subsequent  agreement.  The  subsequent  agreement  transposing  the  alternative  arrangements   will  be  applied  as  soon  as  possible  after  its  signature,  if  necessary  and  appropriate  by  means  of   provisional  application,  in  line  with  the  applicable  legal  frameworks  and  existing  practice.
Compliance  and  unilateral  suspension

12. The  Union  and  the  United  Kingdom  agree  that  it  would  be  inconsistent  with  their  obligations   under  Article  5  of  the  Withdrawal  Agreement  and  Article  2(1)  of  the  Protocol  for  either  party   to  act  with  the  objective  of  applying  the  Protocol  indefinitely.  Should  the  Union  or  the  United   Kingdom  consider  the  other  party  was  acting  in  this  way  after  the  Protocol  became  applicable,   it  could  make  use  of  the  dispute  settlement  mechanism  enshrined  in  Articles  167  to  181  of  the   Withdrawal  Agreement.

13. If  a  dispute  arises  in  relation  to  Article  5  of  the  Withdrawal  Agreement  and  Article  2(1)  of  the   Protocol,  the  Union  and  the  United  Kingdom  will  immediately  enter  into  consultations  in  the   Joint  Committee.  They  will  endeavour  to  resolve  the  dispute  in  a  timely  manner,  with  the  aim   of  reaching  a  mutually  agreed  solution.  With  a  view  to  facilitating  such  a  solution,  each  party   will  provide  a  written  reasoned  justification  of  its  respective  position  and  will  respond  in   writing  to  the  other.

14. Under  the  dispute  settlement  mechanism,  a  ruling  by  the  arbitration  panel  that  a  party  acts   with  the  objective  of  applying  the  Protocol  indefinitely  would  be  binding  on  the  Union  and  the   United  Kingdom.  Persistent  failure  by  a  party  to  comply  with  a  ruling,  and  thus  persistent   failure  by  that  party  to  return  to  compliance  with  its  obligations  under  the  Withdrawal   Agreement,  may  result  in  temporary  remedies.  Ultimately,  the  aggrieved  party  would  have  the   right  to  enact  a  unilateral,  proportionate  suspension  of  its  obligations  under  the  Withdrawal   Agreement  (other  than  Part  Two),  including  the  Protocol.  Such  a  suspension  may  remain  in   place  unless  and  until  the  offending  party  has  taken  the  necessary  measures  to  comply  with   the  ruling  of  the  arbitration  panel.


15. The  Protocol  does  not  affect  or  supersede  the  provisions  of  the  1998  Agreement  in  any  way.  In   particular,  it  does  not  alter  in  any  way  the  arrangements  under  Strand  II  of  the  1998   Agreement,  whereby  areas  of  North-­‐South  cooperation  in  areas  within  their  respective   competences  are  matters  for  the  Northern  Ireland  Executive  and  Government  of  Ireland  to   determine.

16. In  accordance  with  Article  15(5)  of  the  Protocol,  any  new  Union  act  that  falls  within  the  scope   of  the  Protocol,  but  neither  amends  nor  replaces  a  Union  act  listed  in  the  Annexes  to  the   Protocol,  will  require  the  agreement  of  the  United  Kingdom  in  the  Joint  Committee  in  order  to   be  added  to  the  relevant  Annex  of  the  Protocol.

17. The  Union  and  the  United  Kingdom  confirm  that  the  Protocol  does  not  prevent  the  United   Kingdom  from  facilitating,  as  part  of  its  delegation,  the  participation  of  Northern  Ireland   Executive  representatives  in  the  Joint  Committee,  the  Committee  on  issues  related  to  the   implementation  of  the  Protocol,  or  the  joint  consultative  working  group,  in  matters  pertaining   directly  to  Northern  Ireland.


18.   The  sole  purpose  of  Article  184  of  the  Withdrawal  Agreement  is  to  create  best  endeavours   obligations  for  the  Union  and  the  United  Kingdom  to  negotiate  agreements  governing  their   future  relationship  and  that  this  provision  imposes  no  obligations  regarding  the  territorial   scope  of  such  agreements.  Therefore,  there  is  no  obligation  or  presumption,  on  the  basis  of   this  provision,  for  such  agreements  to  have  the  same  territorial  scope  as  the  one  provided  for   in  Article  3  of  the  Withdrawal  Agreement.

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