Chief negotiator Michel Barnier said the agreement for an “ordered withdrawal” was a “decisive step”. However, he did say that there was more work to be done including resolving the Ireland border situation.
David Davis, secretary of state for Exiting the European Union, said EU trade deals would continue to apply in the UK until Brexit day.
Consulted on fishing
Under the terms of the deal the UK would be consulted in respect of fishing opportunities and could sign, but not implement third-country trade deals until the transition date. EU citizens residing in the country until the transition date would be able to stay in the UK.
The deal is to be agreed by the European Council on Friday. Ian Wright, Food and Drink Federation (FDF) director general, said it supported a transition period of at least two years.
“Transition must not be open-ended, but its end point will depend on how quickly the nature of our future trading relationship with the EU is confirmed.
‘We have confidence in the systems’
“Some food and drink businesses will be ready earlier than two years but transition must not end until the bulk of the industry is ready and we have confidence in the systems on both sides of the Channel.
“Food and drink manufacturers are now looking for serious reassurance from Government that will not press ahead at any economic cost and that they will be flexible if systems - particularly customs – are not ready in 21 months’ time.
“Similarly, negotiations must avoid a hard border on the island of Ireland, where ingredients, finished products and workers cross the border many times a day. Until the appropriate technological solutions can be found, then the option of a regulatory backstop must be left on the table.
“We hope that European leaders will give the green light on Friday for talks to formally move onto our future relationship with the EU – food and drink’s most important trading partner.”