The Withdrawal Agreement Act (WAA) is a piece of legislation passed by the UK Parliament in January 2020. The act ratifies the withdrawal agreement negotiated between the UK and the European Union (EU), which outlines the terms of the UK`s departure from the EU.
The WAA covers various aspects of the UK`s withdrawal from the EU, including citizens` rights, financial settlement, and the Northern Ireland Protocol. The agreement also includes a transition period, during which the UK will continue to follow EU rules and regulations while negotiating a future trade agreement with the EU.
One of the key provisions of the WAA is the protection of the rights of EU citizens living in the UK and UK citizens living in the EU. These citizens will retain their existing rights to live, work, and study in their respective countries, even after the UK`s withdrawal from the EU.
The financial settlement provision of the WAA requires the UK to make a one-off payment to the EU to cover its financial obligations, such as outstanding payments for EU projects and programs. The amount of the payment was agreed upon during the negotiations and is expected to be around £33 billion.
The Northern Ireland Protocol is a crucial aspect of the WAA, as it aims to prevent the reintroduction of a hard border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. The protocol establishes a special status for Northern Ireland, where it will remain part of the UK customs territory but will also follow some EU rules and regulations to ensure frictionless trade with the Republic of Ireland.
The WAA has been the subject of much controversy and debate in the UK, with critics arguing that it is a betrayal of the Brexit vote and that it leaves the UK in a weaker position than it was before. However, supporters of the WAA argue that it provides a stable framework for the UK`s departure from the EU and ensures a smooth transition to a new relationship with the EU.
In conclusion, the Withdrawal Agreement Act is a significant piece of legislation that ratifies the UK`s withdrawal agreement with the EU. It covers various aspects of the UK`s departure, including citizens` rights, financial settlement, and the Northern Ireland Protocol. Although the act has been the subject of controversy and debate, it provides a stable framework for the UK`s departure from the EU and ensures a smooth transition to a new relationship with the EU.