The procedure for ratification of VA by the EU is set out in Article 50 of the Treaty on European Union. It is a two-step process. The European Parliament must approve the agreement. The Council of the EU must then definitively approve the agreement by a “qualified majority”. The Council of the EU is composed of ministerial representatives from each Member State. The agreement also provides for a transitional period that will last until 31 December 2020 and may be extended by mutual agreement. During the transition period, EU legislation remains applicable to the UK (including participation in the European Economic Area, the internal market and the customs union) and the UK will continue to contribute to the EU budget, but the UK will not be represented in EU decision-making bodies. The transition period will give businesses time to adjust to the new situation and the UK and EU governments to negotiate a new EU-UK trade deal.   The British Parliament passes a law obliging the British government to request a postponement of Brexit in the absence of an agreement with the EU before 19 October 2019. The transitional period shall end, as provided for in the Withdrawal Agreement.
With regard to the Irish border issue, there is a protocol on Northern Ireland (the “backstop”) which is annexed to the agreement and defines a return case position that will only enter into force in the absence of evidence of other effective arrangements before the end of the transitional period. If this is the case, the UK will eclipse the EU`s external common law and Northern Ireland will remain in the internal market aspects until such a manifestation is achieved. None of the parties can unilaterally withdraw from this customs union. The aim of this backstop agreement is to avoid a “hard” border in Ireland, where customs controls are necessary.  Mr. Šefčovič said that the adoption of the law would constitute an “extremely serious violation” of the Withdrawal Agreement and international law. The EU and the UK have reached an agreement on the Withdrawal Agreement, with a revised protocol on Ireland and Northern Ireland (removal of the backstop) and a revised political declaration. On the same day, the European Council (Article 50) approved these texts. The House of Commons votes in favour of the Brexit Act. This means that the UK is on track to leave the EU on 31 January. However, the House of Lords and the European Parliament have yet to approve the deal.
The Declaration on the Future Relationship between the European Union and the United Kingdom, also known as the Political Declaration, is a non-binding declaration that was negotiated and signed at the same time as the binding and more comprehensive Withdrawal Agreement in the context of the Withdrawal of the United Kingdom from the European Union (EU), commonly known as Brexit, and the expected end of the transition period. . . .