Brussels - Britain has provided clarity on three key aspects of its departure from the European Union as demanded by the bloc.
These are the rights of EU citizens living in Britain post-Brexit and vice versa, London's remaining financial commitments to the bloc and relations between Northern Ireland, which is part of the United Kingdom, and the Republic of Ireland.
The 15-page text agreed to by Britain and the European Commission lays out guidelines for a formal divorce settlement. It still requires EU member state approval.
Details are as follows:
- EU citizens already resident in Britain when it leaves the EU will be able to continue living, working and studying there, and vice versa for British citizens in the EU.
- These citizens will retain the right to be joined by family members, including children born after Britain leaves the EU.
- British and EU citizens living in one another's territory retain their right to healthcare, pensions and other social security provisions, including family allowances.
- Britain will enable EU citizens living there to obtain a special residence status guaranteeing their rights, keeping the process as simple as possible and limiting any fees.
- Permanent residence rights for British citizens in the EU and vice versa expire after a five-year absence.
- EU citizens in Britain can enforce their rights in British courts, but British judges must take EU court rulings into account. They will be able to refer cases to the European Court of Justice for eight years after Brexit.
- Britain will set up an independent authority to oversee the application of its EU withdrawal agreement.
- Britain will keep paying into the EU's annual budgets for 2019 and 2020 as though it remained a member of the bloc and will pay its share of outstanding commitments at the end of that period.
- Organizations in Britain will be permitted to take part in EU-funded programmes through 2020.
- The financial settlement will be drawn up and paid in euros.
- Brussels and London have settled financial matters relating to the European Investment Bank, the European Central Bank, the European Development Fund and an EU fund for refugees in Turkey.
IRELAND AND NORTHERN IRELAND:
- Britain remains committed to protecting cooperation between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland and guarantees to avoid a hard border.
- Britain hopes to fulfil this through its final trade deal with the EU, but if necessary will seek "specific solutions" to the unique situation in Ireland.
- If this fails, Britain pledges to maintain "full alignment" with those EU internal market and customs union rules necessary to support cooperation between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, the island's shared economy and the 1998 Good Friday peace agreement.
- People in both parts of Ireland will remain free to choose if they want to be citizens of the United Kingdom or the Republic of Ireland.
- Work on the Irish issue will continue in a separate strand of Brexit negotiations.