A jointly-authored document released on Friday December 8th highlights a slate of breakthroughs in what appeared very unlikely just over a week ago.
"Both Parties have reached agreement in principle across the following three areas under consideration in the first phase of negotiations, on which further detail is set out in this report: a. protecting the rights of Union citizens in the UK and UK citizens in the Union; b. the framework for addressing the unique circumstances in Northern Ireland; and c. the financial settlement," states the communiqué.
The agreement pledges to protect the rights of the 1.2 million British citizens living in the EU and the 3 million EU citizens living in the UK. Good news potentially too for the 27,000-30,000 Brits living in Italy.
"The overall objective of the Withdrawal Agreement with respect to citizens' rights is to provide reciprocal protection for Union and UK citizens, to enable the effective exercise of rights derived from Union law and based on past life choices, where those citizens have exercised free movement rights by the specified date," adds the statement.
It remains unclear however whether UK citizens, for example, will retain the right to free movement within the EU. Reciprocal recognition of qualifications also remains an outstanding issue.
The document also establishes a "methodology" for the financial settlement the UK should pay. While the text outlines several criteria for calculating the final sum, no sum is mentioned. The UK will continue to contribute to EU budgets until 2020.
Talking at a joint press conference with Theresa May on December 8th, EU Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said he has formerly "decided to recommend to the European Council that sufficient progress has now been made on the strict terms of the divorce."
He added he was "confident, sure" that leaders of the EU27 bloc – who still need to endorse the agreement – would accept the terms.
2/ key points on citizens' rights -— Steve Peers (@StevePeers) December 8, 2017
They are reciprocal (so UK citizens in EU27 also protected)
Cut off date is Brexit day (UK wanted Article 50 but willing to talk)
ECJ case law pre Brexit day applies to interpretation of EU law pic.twitter.com/rIG619QPzq