Professor Anand Menon, director of The UK in a Changing Europe, said: “As the old saying has it, nothing is agreed until everything is agreed. Significant progress has clearly been made particularly on citizens’ rights but let’s not kid ourselves. Problems remain. The Irish circle remains to be squared and at some point it will become clear that we can’t use cash to get a good trade deal. Overall my sense is this progress report reduces the chance of both no deal and no Brexit.”
Professor Catherine Barnard, UK in a Changing Europe senior fellow, said: “The UK’s red line over the Court of Justice (CJEU) has turned pink. In the field of citizens’ rights, the Luxembourg Court is here to stay for eight years after the ‘specified date’, the date of the UK’s withdrawal.
“There will be some sort of ‘preliminary reference’ mechanism enabling UK courts and tribunals to ask the CJEU questions of interpretation of those rights where they consider that a CJEU ruling is necessary for the UK court to give judgment.
“Most strikingly, the UK Government will have the right to intervene in cases before the CJEU on citizens’ rights matters and, for the first time, the European Commission will have the right to intervene in citizens’ rights cases before UK courts.”
Dr Simon Usherwood, deputy director of The UK in a Changing Europe, said: “Today’s report has found common ground by agreeing on the need to agree, ie many points have been kicked down the road and will need to be addressed more substantively in Phase 2.
“Of particular note will be the reaction from the European Parliament – which has to approve the final deal – given the limitations and opacities on citizens’ rights, which the Parliament has sworn to uphold.”
Professor Colin Harvey, UK in a Changing Europe research leader, said: “There is a clear commitment to the protection of the Good Friday Agreement in all its parts and full recognition of the unique circumstances on the island of Ireland.
“This includes no diminution in guarantees relating to, for example, rights and equality. The Good Friday Agreement is at the heart of the negotiations and its principles, values and institutions therefore demand our full attention.
“Due to the unique nature of the issues this work will move forward in a separate strand of the negotiations. The challenging task now will be working through the detailed application of these agreed principles in the months ahead. But one thing is plain in this document: there is, in principle at least, an acknowledgement of the unique challenges facing Northern Ireland and Ireland.”
Professor Jonathan Portes, UK in Changing Europe senior fellow said: “On citizens’ rights, the deal largely, but not entirely, preserves indefinitely the existing rights of EU citizens resident in the UK and Brits elsewhere in the EU – including family reunion rights.
“A complex mechanism will ensure that in practice the ECJ is the ultimate arbiter of the agreement, while allowing the UK to claim that the ECJ does not formally impinge on UK sovereignty.
“Although there are still many details to be resolved, this deal will go a considerable way towards resolving the uncertainty which has been hanging over those affected for the last year and a half.”
Dr Michaela Benson, UK in a Changing Europe research leader, said: “A consensus has been reached on the rights of UK citizens living in the EU and we anticipate this will ease some of the uncertainties and anxieties they have expressed to us about their future.
“However, the consensus is just a starting point; there are matters concerning UK citizens resident in the EU27 that are outstanding as they lie within the remit of later stages in the negotiations. There will be important questions around implementation – particularly how to evidence legal residence.”
Dr Borja García, UK in a Changing Europe research investigator, said: “Today’s agreement confirms the unity in the negotiation position of the EU27 and the Brussels institutions. Our research has shown, irrespective of national electoral contexts, the EU27 have maintained a coherent and united front to secure an orderly withdrawal of the UK from the EU without damaging the integrity of the Union and the single market.
“Today´s development is also a sign of clarity in the UK´s position over what Brexit they are trying to achieve and negotiate, which was missing, until now, in the eyes of Brussels.”
Dr Nando Sigona, UK in a Changing Europe research leader, said: “Important comprises have been made concerning the acceptance of ending freedom of movement on 29 March 2019; the recognition of family rights for EU nationals living in the UK to a more generous level than what is accorded to non-EU nationals.
“EU students and workers will also see their equal status to UK nationals protected. The removal of criminals with EU passports is made easier. The exclusion of UK nationals in the EU from this stage of negotiations is symptomatic of the different priorities for the EU and UK negotiating teams.”
The views expressed in this analysis post are those of the authors and not necessarily those of the UK in a Changing Europe initiative.