19:48 GMT18 February 2020
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    The European Union agreed Monday to offer the United Kingdom a 21-month period in 2019 after Brexit, during which the country will be allowed to keep "status quo" of EU membership.

    "The Council, meeting in EU27 format, adopted supplementing negotiating directives for the Brexit negotiations, which detail the EU27 position regarding a transition period. These negotiating directives provide the Commission, as the EU negotiator, with a mandate to start discussions with the United Kingdom on this matter," the Council of the European Union said in a statement.

    According to Bulgarian Deputy Prime Minister Ekaterina Zaharieva, the document was adopted "speedily", adding that during the entire transition period the EU legal framework would still be used in the United Kingdom, but London would not be able to participate in the institutions or decision-making processes of the European Union.

    This was also confirmed by Sabine Weyand, the deputy to EU Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier, who said on Twitter that it took ministers a few minutes.

    Meanwhile, a spokesperson for the UK prime minister noted that the United Kingdom and the European Union have a number of differences in their stances on the conditions for the post-Brexit transition period.

    "The formal directives will be released this afternoon. This will be a negotiation and there will naturally be some distance in the detail of our starting positions," the spokesperson said at a briefing.

    In late December, 2017, Michel Barnier, the EU chief negotiator for the Brexit talks, said that Brussels believed that the transition period should end on December 31, 2020, the last day of the European Union's current seven-year budget.

    The EU Council decision was taken amid the expected heated debates in the United Kingdom, reasoned by the EU withdrawal bill, which should turn EU legislation into domestic law by Brexit day in March 2019. The remain-supporters in the House of Lords of the UK Parliament are scheduled to vote for a motion of regret that the nation doesn't have another say over the Brexit decision.

    READ MORE: 'Flawed' Brexit 'Bill' Needs Major Rewrites — House of Lords

    The long and complicated Brexit talks between the United Kingdom and the European Union are scheduled to be completed by the end of March 2019. In December 2017, the sides ended the first phase of negotiations, including debates on the issue of citizens' rights. After that they've since moved to the second phase, focusing on the transition period in their relations after Britain's withdrawal, including their future long-term trade and security cooperation, on the agenda.

    READ MORE: Trump Claims Would Take 'Tougher Stand' in Brexit Negotiations Than May

    transition period, Brexit, European Union, United Kingdom
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