'Have we finally reached a full stop on the backstop' - this is the question that many people are asking here in Strasbourg this evening. This was stated by Marian when she expressed her cautious optimism that the current negotiations between the EU and the UK maybe finally be drawing to a close.
'While I fully understand this is just the first hurdle, nonetheless if it is cleared and if we can have certainty on the backstop on the Irish border then it can be seen as progress' Marian Harkin continued.
According to sources here in Strasbourg, the backstop will only come into force after the transition period when a free trade agreement has been negotiated and only if that trade agreement is not sufficient to ensure no hardening of the Irish boarder.
There are two very important points in the draft agreement, first that the transition period can be extended by mutual agreement and second that the backstop remains unless there is mutual agreement that it is not needed.
This scenario, if agreed, would give a veto to this or any future Irish government to continue enforcing the legally binding backstop.
Many hurdles remain, especially in the House of Commons but the draft agreement on the table is the first real chink of light that we have seen in this entire process.