The House of Commons will meet Saturday to debate and vote on the new deal for Brexit, negotiated by British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, concluded on Thursday with the European Union. Find out here what are the main points of the agreement between London and Brussels.
Boris Johnson has called for the "abolition" of the controversial Northern Ireland settlement in the new UK exit deal, but significant changes have also been made to the political statement that will determine future relations. These are some of the changes to the texts revised by the British Government and the European Union:
Northern Ireland Customs Regime
The protocol of the agreement completed on thursday states that Northern Ireland remains in the United Kingdom customs territory, as proposed by Boris Johnson as an alternative to the backstop mechanism previously provided for.
The territory remains aligned with a limited set of EU rules, including those governing food and health rules, for example concerning veterinary or agricultural product controls, and the state aid scheme. If the United Kingdom establishes free trade agreements with other countries, Northern Ireland may benefit from these terms and will not be bound by the European Customs Union. Unlike backstop, which was a safeguard until a permanent solution was found, the alternative model could continue to apply.
No physical boundary
There is already a common movement area for people, but to avoid customs controls on the movement of goods between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, which is part of the EU and the European Single Market, the new protocol establishes a complex system of tax and customs proceedings.
If products from third countries enter Northern Ireland and remain in the United Kingdom, UK rules will apply and refunds will be given for the tax difference. If the same goods are to enter the EU via Northern Ireland, the UK authorities must apply EU regulations and tariffs.
One of the last points to finalize in the agreement concerns the rate to be applied in Northern Ireland so that there are no large price differences between the British province and the neighboring Republic of Ireland. To protect the integrity of the single European market, EU VAT rules will continue to apply in Northern Ireland and the UK Customs will be responsible for the application and collection of this tax.
A "consent" mechanism has been determined: four years after its introduction, the Northern Ireland Assembly may, by simple majority, renew or abandon the scheme provided for in the Protocol. In the latter case, it will cease to apply two years later.
The Unionists questioned this model because, until now, decisions were made on the basis of a "double majority" concept, ie there had to be approval from the Protestant and Catholic communities. The EU has refused because this would imply a veto on Unionists, who fear a departure from the rest of the United Kingdom.
In the Political Declaration, which sets the direction for future negotiations, the desired partnership no longer includes a "free trade zone" but a "free trade agreement" is implemented. The reference to "as close a trade in goods as possible" has also been replaced by an "ambitious trade in goods based on a free trade agreement".
These differences reflect this government's more distant attitude towards the EU, which may result in stronger trade barriers.