Belfast Telegraph

Here is what the EU-UK deal says about Northern Ireland

By Michael Sheils McNamee

Brexit talks between the United Kingdom and the European Union are set to move to the next stage with the announcement "sufficient progress" has been made on key issues.

Negotiations had focused on agreeing the future status of EU nationals in the UK, the UK's financial obligations to EU, and the future status of Northern Ireland.

A deal had seemed imminent earlier in the week, but was scuppered after push back by the DUP at possible "regulatory alignment" between Northern Ireland and the Republic.

In the published text of the Brexit deal, there is a clause which makes it clear Northern Ireland will not be treated differently from the rest of the UK as negotiations move forward.

Paragraph 50 of the text states: "The United Kingdom will ensure that no new regulatory barriers develop between Northern Ireland and the rest of the United Kingdom, unless, consistent with the 1998 Agreement, the Northern Ireland Executive and Assembly agree that distinct arrangements are appropriate for Northern Ireland."

Paragraph 50 also includes the statement: "In all circumstances, the United Kingdom will continue to ensure the same unfettered access to Northern Ireland's businesses to the whole of the United Kingdom internal market."

It is understood this section was added at the request of the DUP.

Paragraphs 48 and 49 also focus on Northern Ireland.

Paragraph 48 reads: "The United Kingdom remains committed to protecting and supporting continued North-South and East-West cooperation across the full range of political, economic, security, societal and agricultural contexts and frameworks of cooperation, including the continued operation of the North-South implementation bodies."

Paragraph 49 states the United Kingdom is committed to "avoiding a hard border" and any future arrangements "must be compatible with these overarching requirements".

Crucially, it states if no agreement between the United Kingdom and the EU can be reached the entire UK will remain within the Internal Market and Customs Union.

It states that if no agreement can be reached: "The United Kingdom will maintain full alignment with those rules of the Internal Market and the Customs Union which, now or in the future, support North-South cooperation, the all-island economy and the protection of the 1998 Agreement."

In a statement on Friday morning, the DUP said it was engaged in negotiations into the early hours, and had secured a number of commitments as part of the agreement.

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