Brexit: Michel Barnier says draft transition treaty mostly agreed

European Union's chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier attends an EU's General Affairs Council in Brussels Belgium

Brexit negotiators Michel Barnier and David Davis said they had agreed terms for a transition period, calling the announcement a "decisive step", the BBC reported.

On the border between Northern Ireland and the Republic, Barnier said the two sides had agreed how the issue would be dealt with during the remaining negotiations. On the European citizens affected and anxious about Brexit, Barnier said: "Citizens will have the possibility to obtain a new residency status from the start of the transition".

In the past they have proven to be a notable source of volatility for Sterling and we would imagine today would be no different as the appearance could well signal whether or not a deal will be reached at this week's European Council summit.

The transitional period is set to last from March 29, 2019, to December 31, 2020, according to the deal.

Even though it is not legally binding, the transition agreement is seen as important for May's government, which has been eager to offer assurances to businesses to help mitigate uncertainty over Brexit.

But comments from observers suggest that any certainty for business leaders, including insurance and reinsurance firms, is only temporary and the transition agreement fails to provide the all-important legal certainty that businesses require in order to adjust their plans.

"Without political direction from leaders in the European Union to their financial regulators instructing them to develop cross-border models of supervision and solutions to these cliff-edge issues, financial institutions and their customers may not be able to rely on these measures", UK Finance Chief Executive Stephen Jones said.

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The issue will be on European Union leaders' agenda on Friday morning, and one question will be whether they think that enough progress has been made on Ireland.

The UK and the European Union were involved in another intense few days of talks, but have announced they've come to an agreement over how to manage the UK's transition period.

One EU diplomat involved in negotiations summed up the move and on the wide spread of other agreements reached as saying May had given priority to the transition period: "The Brits have just given in on everything, so big was their drive to get the transition".

Interviewed by Andrew Marr last month, Guy Verhofstadt said this sort of eventuality meant exit with no deal - with the United Kingdom trading on WTO terms, no transition, and no safeguards for our citizens.

"We hope that the European Union summit this week will not be seen as an opportunity for political leaders to muddy the waters of this deal as agreement on transition is vital for businesses across Europe".

The suggestion here is that markets won't be surprised if no deal is agreed and any sell-off in the Pound is likely to be short-lived. "So until we have legal certainty, our clients will continue to take action to prepare themselves for a "no-deal" scenario", Stewart added.

James Stewart, head of Brexit at KPMG consultants, said the transition deal will make little difference to business leaders in their Brexit planning. This section of the agreement remains in the official papers, but has not been agreed.

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