After an unprecedented vote on 4 December 2018, MEPs ruled that the UK government was not respecting Parliament because it refused to give Parliament full legal advice on the consequences of its proposed withdrawal terms.  The focus of the consultation was on the legal effect of the “backstop” agreement for Northern Ireland, the Republic of Ireland and the rest of the United Kingdom with regard to the CUSTOMS border between the EU and the United Kingdom and its impact on the Good Friday agreement that led to the end of the unrest in Northern Ireland, including whether , according to the proposals, the UK would be certain that it would be able to leave the EU in a practical sense. On 19 October, a statement was also made to Parliament that a political agreement had been reached. The Withdrawal Agreement and the Political Declaration On 17 October 2019, the UK and the EU agreed to withdraw the UK from the European Union after several failed attempts to win the approval of the British Parliament for the original agreement. The agreement includes the revised political declaration and the new withdrawal agreement. The draft Brexit withdrawal agreement is 599 pages long. It explains how the UK is leaving the European Union. The agreement defines the goods, services and processes associated with them. Any provision of goods or services legally put on the market before leaving the EU may be made available to consumers in the UK or in the EU Member States (Article 40-41). On the issue of the Irish border, there is a protocol on Northern Ireland (the “backstop”) which is attached to the agreement and establishes a position of withdrawal which will only come into force in the absence of effective alternative provisions before the expiry of the transition period. In this case, the UK will eclipse the EU`s common external tariff and Northern Ireland will stick to aspects of the internal market until such an event is carried out. Neither party can unilaterally withdraw from this customs union.
The aim of this backstop agreement is to avoid a “hard” border in Ireland, where customs controls are needed.  The withdrawal agreement also contains provisions for the United Kingdom to leave the Convention setting the status of European schools, with the United Kingdom bound by the Convention and its accompanying regulations on accredited European schools until the end of the last academic year of the transition period, i.e. at the end of the spring semester 2020-2021.  The EU withdrawal agreement is a legally binding document. It contains conditions for the UK`s withdrawal from the EU of more than 500 pages, including the first agreements on citizens` rights, the UK`s financial commitments to the EU and the Northern Ireland Protocol, which establish provisions for maintaining an open border on the island of Ireland. The withdrawal agreement was adopted by the European Council on 19 October 2019 in its final form, which was confirmed in the declaration that a political agreement had been reached and that the United Kingdom had reached an agreement with the European Union in accordance with Article 50, paragraph 2, of the Treaty on European Union. The UK has launched the formal process of withdrawal negotiations by formally announcing the European Council`s intention to leave the EU. On 6 September 2020, the Financial Times reported that the UK government was considering drafting new laws to circumvent the protocol of the Withdrawal Agreement in Northern Ireland.  The new law would give ministers the power to determine which state aid should be notified to the EU and to define which products at risk of being transferred from Northern Ireland to Ireland (the withdrawal agreement stipulates that in the absence of a reciprocal agreement, all products are considered vulnerable).  The government defended this approach and stated that the legislation was in accordance with protocol and that it had only “clarified” the volumity in the protocol.  Ursula von der Leyen warned Johnson not to violate international law and said that the implementation of the withdrawal agreement by Britain was “a prerequisite for any future partner