Deal (Mostly) Struck Over Brexit Terms After Months Of Negotiations

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Britain and the European Union agreed on Monday to a transition period to avoid a "cliff edge" Brexit next year - though only after London accepted a potential solution for the border with the Irish Republic that may face stiff opposition at home.

European Union chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier, right, reaches out to shake hands with British Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union David Davis prior to a meeting at EU headquarters in Brussels on Monday, March 19, 2018.

Britons arriving in European Union countries such as France during an 18-month transition period after Brexit will enjoy the same rights as they would have if they arrived before March 29, 2019.

Britain will no longer be able to provide input on the EU's rules and regulations, but will be able to negotiate and sign trade deals after the transition.

EU27 citizens arrive in Britain during transitional period will have same rights with citizens arriving before the Brexit, said the deal.

The transition period is expected to end at midnight on December 31, 2020.

Sinn Féin's leader in Northern Ireland Michelle O'Neill said while she welcomed the reassurance of the EU's Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier to guarantee no hard border, she saw "some equivocation from the British government again" despite its commitment to the backstop in December.

Barnier offered a reminder that "nothing is agreed until everything is agreed", indicating a solution must be reached before a final Brexit deal is signed.

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When it comes to the idea of a backstop scenario which could see Northern Ireland placed under different rules than the United Kingdom mainland, SDLP leader Colum Eastwood said: "I am glad that the British prime minister has sensibly rowed back from the language that no prime minister could sign up to this proposal". During the transition period, agreements dating from the U.K.'s European Union membership would continue to apply.

The thorny issue will, however, require further talks to be fully resolved, the two sides said.

Banks and insurers have said they might not be able to rely on such a political deal as it will not be formally ratified by governments until October or later, which would be too late for them to avoid making adjustments to their operations.

Simon Coveney, the Republic of Ireland's foreign minister, said after meeting Michel Barnier that "negotiations are moving forward - progress on Irish issues remains a key priority for both negotiating teams and solidarity with our European Union partners remains strong". However, Britain also notched some gains it had pushed for.

The deal is to be agreed by the European Council on Friday.

After an "intensive" weekend of talks in Brussels, Barnier said the two sides were "in agreement on a large part" of the divorce treaty governing the terms of Britain's departure after four decades of membership.

"The Brits have just given in on everything, so big was their drive to get the transition".

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