Talks resumed in the following days, so a joint report was published on 8 December to report on the commitments that must be taken into account in the withdrawal agreement. Both the UK and EU negotiating teams have expressed their preference to avoid a “hard border” and have proposed a draft withdrawal agreement containing a backstop: the revised agreement has fewer tax obligations than the previous version. It states that the parties adhere to the principles of good fiscal governance and the fight against harmful tax practices. However, there is no reference to the Code of Conduct for Corporate Taxation (which was published in the previous version). The political declaration specifies that the contracting parties envisage mutual recognition of the programmes of trusted economic operators, administrative cooperation in customs and VAT and mutual assistance, including the collection of tax and tax debts, and the exchange of information to combat customs fraud and VAT fraud and other illegal activities. The provisions in the Policy Declaration on the Fair Competition, under which future relations must ensure open and fair competition, include the obligation for the parties to comply, at the end of the transition period, with the high common standards in place in the EU and the United Kingdom in areas covered by `relevant tax issues`. There is a specific protocol on Gibraltar, which provides for an agreement between the UK and Spain to cooperate in full transparency of tax issues in order to combat fraud, smuggling and money laundering and to resolve disputes between tax residences. The United Kingdom is also committed to meeting G20 and OECD standards for good financial management, transparency, information exchange and, in particular, economic substance criteria set out by the OECD Forum on Harmful Tax Practices. These provisions expire at the end of the transitional period. At the end of the transitional period, the United Kingdom will lose access to tax directives and will depend on its network of double taxation agreements to determine whether withholding tax is likely to apply to incoming dividends, interest and royalties. The United Kingdom has already begun renegotiating some contracts and, in cases where there is likely to be a source withholding tax issue, that will be a priority. Reality check: what do the Brexit backstop proposals mean? This protocol was strongly rejected by the Democratic Unionist Party, which saw it as a weakening of Northern Ireland`s place in the United Kingdom and is seen by a number of commentators as the main reason why the withdrawal agreement was not ratified by the United Kingdom Parliament.    Since 2018, the DUP has stated that the anti-Northern Ireland ruling must be withdrawn from the Brexit withdrawal agreement if it were to continue to support the Conservative government in the House of Commons although the party has stated that it is open to limiting backstops over time.
 This triggered Article 50 of the Treaty on european Union, which defines the procedure for the withdrawal of an EU Member State, thus opening a two-year countdown to withdrawal.