Dec. 8 (UPI) -- Britain and the European Union reached an agreement in principle Tuesday on post-Brexit protocol at the Irish border, which had been a key obstacle in deadlocked negotiations for any trade deal to start in January.
Both sides reached the agreement after British negotiators agreed to drop the controversial "Internal Market Bill."
The bill, which EU officials previously said violates international law by allowing Britain to modify parts of last year's exit deal, had been pushed by British Prime Minister Boris Johnson as a backup strategy if they failed to find a deal by the end of the transition period on Dec. 31.
British cabinet minister Michael Gove announced the agreement Tuesday and acknowledged cooperation with EU Vice President of Institutional Relations Marcos Sefcovic.
"Delighted to announce an agreement in principle on all issues in the UK-EU Withdrawal Agreement Joint Committee," Gove tweeted. "Thank you to [Sefcovic] and his team for their constructive and pragmatic approach. I will be updating Parliament tomorrow."
The breakthrough came when the EU promised to minimize checks on controls on food and medicine headed to Northern Ireland from Britain.
"An agreement in principle has been found in the following areas, amongst others: border control posts/entry points specifically for checks on animals, plants and derived products, export declarations, the supply of medicines, the supply of chilled meats, and other food products to supermarkets, and a clarification on the application of State aid under the terms of the protocol," the Britain/EU joint committee said in a statement.
The committee said the deal will be reviewed by Britain and the EU before final approval in the coming days and weeks.
The deal on the Internal Market bill is separate from overall negotiations on a post-Brexit trade deal, which are still deadlocked as both sides are running out of time before the transition period expires.
Johnson will meet with EU leader Ursula von der Leyen in Brussels tomorrow to discuss the prospects for an agreement before Dec. 31.