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Brexit Breakthrough

EU Residents can remain in UK and Ex-Pats can REMAIN abroad with all rights intact!!!!

After months of contentious and often fruitless discussions, Great Britain and the European Union announced a breakthrough Friday morning that includes provisions to protect the post-Brexit residency of three million E.U. citizens in the U.K. and more than one million Britons living in E.U. member nations.

In addition, the agreement includes a resolution of the border between northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, an issue that was made more complicated by demands of the Democratic Unionist Party currently ruling in a tenuous coalition with Prime Minister Theresa May's Conservative Party.

Standing side by side, European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker and May - who arrived in Brussels at 6 a.m. for a joint press conference - announced that for the first time, major hurdles had been overcome that will allow progress on other key issues, particularly trade.

Calling it "the breakthrough we needed," Juncker said that "sufficient progress" had now been made in the first phase of discussions that began six months ago, paving the way for the long-anticipated, multi-sectorial and highly complex discussions on trade.

"We can now start looking towards the future - a future in which the U.K. will be a close ally," he said.

May called the breakthrough a "significant improvement" that involved compromise from both parties.

She vowed that the rights of the E.U. citizens living in her country would be "enshrined in U.K. law and enforced by British courts."

The second breakthrough came during a long, hard night of discussions that resulted in a guarantee of "no hard border" between the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland that will maintain the "constitutional and economic integrity of the United Kingdom."

Resolving that obstacle had been complicated by May's coalition partners, the north's small DUP, whose support she cannot afford to lose in order to maintain her government. While previously standing in the way of agreement, the party's leader, Arlene Foster, said on Friday that she was "pleased" with the accord which would mean "no red line down the Irish Sea, leaving the single market and leaving the customs union."

She said that after rejecting a deal-in-progress on Monday, she had gotten "six substantive changes" related to "regulatory alignment" with the E.U. that allowed the parties to escape a "hard" border that would have implied major disruption to cross-border trade considered vital to both countries.

Ireland's foreign minister, Simon Coveney, called the accord "a very good outcome for everyone on the island of Ireland." His government claimed the country was now solidly protected against a hard border.

British residents of the E.U. will have the same rights as their E.U. counterparts in the U.K., Juncker emphasized. He said that any administrative processes would be "cheap and simple."

Juncker warned, though, that so far the deal represented merely a recommendation by the Commission. "The decision on sufficient progress will be in the hands of the 27 heads of state or government," who are scheduled for a summit on December 14.

The U.K. has been eager to get past these critical issues to take up the trade issues, which May is enthusiastic to tackle. "Doing so will provide clarity and certainty for businesses in the United Kingdom and the European Union."

She also said that agreement had been reached on the U.K.'s outstanding bill to the E.U., another key issue for the talks to move forward. It's reported that amount will come in at least £45, more than twice the U.K.'s original offer and less than the E.U. has indicated to date.

Meanwhile, British business leaders began to weigh in with some relief, especially as those in many sectors have begun anxiety-ridden preparations for a post-Brexit future that includes moving headquarters and operations to other E.U. member states, particularly in the financial sector.

"Firms have been watching negotiations closely and today's announcement will lift spirits in the run up to Christmas," said Josh Hardie, deputy director general of the Confederation of British Industry. "Sufficient progress is a present they've spent months waiting for."

The head of the British Chambers of Commerce agreed: "After the noise and political brinksmanship of recent days, news of a breakthrough in the negotiations will be warmly welcomed by companies across the U.K.," Adam Marshall said.

He warned, though, that the details must be confirmed "swiftly in the new year when negotiators move on to the big questions around our future trade relationship with the E.U."

Many business leaders across the U.K. and E.U. are anxious for the trade talks to get quickly into gear if sufficient progress can be reached before the May 2019 Brexit itself. "Companies all across the U.K. want absolute clarity on the long-term deal being sought and want government to work closely with business experts to ensure the details are right," Marhsall said.

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