This triggered Article 50 of the Treaty on the European Union, which defines the procedure for the withdrawal of an EU member state, thus opening a two-year countdown to withdrawal. Part 6 relates to the institutional provisions underlying the agreement and how to resolve VA disputes. The main changes to Part 6 of the March 2018 draft relate to disputes related to the agreement itself, which the Commission had originally proposed, should be resolved by the ECJ if they could not be resolved in the Joint Committee. Instead, the November draft proposes, in Article 170, that all disputes that are not settled in the Joint Committee be referred to an independent arbitration tribunal which will give a binding decision on the dispute. However, where litigation requires the interpretation of terms or provisions of EU law, Article 174 obliges the Tribunal to refer them to the ECJ in order to interpret in a binding manner those terms or provisions which the Tribunal must then apply. On 13 November 2018, the EU decided that “decisive progress” had been made in the Brexit negotiations, and on 14 November the European Commission and the UK Government published a draft withdrawal agreement as well as three protocols (on the border between Ireland and Northern Ireland, the SOVEREIGN territories of the United Kingdom in Cyprus and Gibraltar) and nine annexes. The text of the negotiated withdrawal agreement and the political declaration on the framework for future EU-UK relations were approved by EU heads of state and government at a specially convened European Council on 25 November 2018. Under the backstop, the UK will form a customs union with the EU (with the exception of trade in fisheries and aquaculture products, which is expected to be the subject of a new agreement on fishing opportunities by 1 July 2020). The UK will comply with specific EU customs legislation, including for third countries, and some harmonisation of tax, environmental, labour law, state aid, competition and public enterprise/monopoly legislation will continue, but without any obligation to follow the new EU legislation and ECJ jurisprudence.
In order to create a level playing field, the UK is committed not to competitiveise EU environmental protection, social and labour standards, state aid and competition, as well as state-owned enterprises in tax management. The VA has delegated a number of agreements concerning the separation of the UK from the EU and the management of the agreement to the joint committee on which it was decided.