British Prime Minister Theresa May and European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker announced Friday morning in Brussels that the U.K. and European Union had agreed on the general terms of their split, after six months of tense talks. May and Juncker both pointed to compromises their side had offered to get to this point, where talks can now begin on the separation details and a post-Brexit trade deal, but "although supporters of Brexit once insisted that Britain held all the cards in the withdrawal negotiations," The New York Times notes, May "has made nearly all the concessions."
Along with settling how much Britain will pay the EU for outstanding obligations, the agreement guarantees the rights of EU citizens living in the U.K. and British citizens in the 27 EU countries, and ruled out imposing a hard border between Northern Ireland — part of the U.K. — and the Republic of Ireland, which will stay in the EU. The three million EU citizens "will be able to go on living as before" in Britain, their rights "enshrined in U.K. law and enforced by British courts," May said. Britain will not reimpose controls on the Irish-Northern Ireland border that had been removed as part of the Good Friday peace accord.
An earlier agreement on the Irish border had fallen apart on Monday after the Democratic Unionist Party, a small Northern Irish party whose 10 seats give May a governing majority, objected. With the agreement in place, EU leaders are expected to approve new Brexit talks when they meet Dec. 14-15.