Queen's Policy Engagement

Extending the Brexit transition period: what does it mean for a deal?

Professor David Phinnemore looks at the implications for the UK and for Theresa May of the proposed extension to the transition period.

Extending the Brexit transition period: what does it mean for a deal?

The UK prime minister, Theresa May, has signalled to EU leaders that she is willing to accept a one-year extension to the proposed “transition period” that will follow the UK’s withdrawal from the EU on March 29 2019. This would mean that the UK could remain subject to EU rules and policies until December 31 2021. That would include remaining under the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice.

The rationale for considering a longer transition period is that it would provide the UK and the EU with more time to negotiate an agreement governing their future relationship. That, in turn, would reduce (if not remove) the likelihood of having to fall back on the much-contested Northern Ireland “backstop” arrangements.

Much of the focus is on the trade elements of the backstop and the shared UK and EU commitment to avoiding a hard border on the island of Ireland. The backstop covers regulatory alignment as well, particularly regarding the free movement of goods. The shared commitments also go further, however, and include upholding the 1998 Belfast (Good Friday) Agreement and supporting north-south cooperation on the island of Ireland and the all-island economy.

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Article originally appeared in The Conversation. 

The featured image in this article is used under a Creative Commons licence. 


Professor David Phinnemore
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David Phinnemore is Professor of European Politics and Jean Monnet Chair in European Political Science in the School of History, Anthropology, Philosophy and Politics at Queen's University Belfast. He is also Dean of Education for the Faculty of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences. Professor Phinnemore's research interests cover EU treaty reform, EU enlargement, EU external relations and alternatives to EU membership, particularly association.

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