The UK and the European Union have signed a provisional free trade agreement designed to stave off the New Year’s chaos for cross-border traders and offer companies a certain level of security after years.
With a little over a week to go until the UK finally separated from the EU, the UK government said the “deal is closed”.
The deal is closed. pic.twitter.com/zzhvxOSeWz
– Boris Johnson (@BorisJohnson) December 24, 2020
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said she was happy with the deal.
“At the end of a successful negotiating journey I usually feel joy. But today I just feel very satisfied and frankly relieved. I know this is a difficult day for some and for our friends in the UK. I want to say goodbye is so sweet Sorry, “von der Leyen told journalists.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said the deal achieved what those who voted for Brexit were looking for.
“We have regained control of our laws and our destinies. We have regained control of every point of our regulation in a manner that is complete and unreserved,” Johnson said on televised comment.
He stressed that Britain would stay close to Europe under the terms of the new agreement.
“We will be your friend, your ally, your supporter and, in fact, will never be forgotten, your number one market. Because although we have left the EU, this country will remain culturally, emotionally, historically, strategically and geologically connected to Europe”, continued Johnson.
The 500-page deal was designed to ensure that both sides can trade goods without tariffs or quotas. Despite the breakthrough, important aspects of the future relationship between the 27-nation bloc and its former member remain uncertain.
Both the UK and the European Parliament have to vote on the agreement. However, the latter cannot happen until after the UK left the EU’s economic embrace on January 1st.
Months of tense and often tried and tested negotiations have gradually reduced the differences between the two sides to three main themes: rules for fair competition, mechanisms for resolving future disputes and fishing rights. The right of EU boats to tow in British waters remained the final obstacle before it was resolved.
However, important aspects of the future relationship between the 27-nation bloc and its former member remain unresolved.
Johnson had insisted that Britain “thrive mightily” even if no deal was reached and Britain had to trade with the EU on World Trade Organization terms. However, his government has recognized that a chaotic exit would likely result in a shutdown in UK ports, temporary bottlenecks in some goods and increases in the price of staple foods.
The EU has long feared that after Brexit, Britain could undercut the bloc’s social, environmental and state aid rules and become a rival with little regulation on the bloc’s doorstep. The UK denies any plans to introduce weaker standards, but said continuing compliance with EU rules would undermine its sovereignty.
Eventually a compromise was reached on the tricky “level playing field”. The economically insignificant but extremely symbolic subject of fish became the last sticking point. The EU maritime states tried to keep access to British waters where they had long been fishing and Britain insisted it must exercise control as an “independent coastal state”.
Weeks of intense negotiations in Brussels gradually closed large loopholes related to fisheries, although Johnson continued to insist that a no-deal exit was a likely and satisfactory outcome of nine months of talks on future relations between the EU and its exes – Member nation.
It’s been 4 1/2 years since the British voted between 52% and 48% to leave the EU and – as the Brexiteers’ motto is – “recapture” control of Britain’s borders and laws.
It was more than three years before Britain left the bloc’s political structures on January 31. The unbundling of economies that were closely linked in the EU’s single market for goods and services took even longer.
The UK remained part of the single market and customs union for an 11-month transition period after Brexit. As a result, many people will hardly have noticed the effects of Brexit so far.
On January 1st, the breakup will feel real. The New Year will bring big changes even with a trade deal. Goods and people can no longer move freely between Great Britain and its continental neighbors without border restrictions.
EU citizens can no longer live and work in the UK without a visa – although this does not apply to the more than 3 million who already do – and Brits can no longer automatically work or retire in EU countries. Exporters and importers face customs declarations, physical checks and other obstacles.
The border between the UK and the EU is already suffering from new restrictions for travelers from the UK to France and other European countries as a new variant of the coronavirus moves through London and southern England. Thousands of trucks were stuck in traffic near Dover on Wednesday, waiting for their drivers to receive virus tests so they could enter the Eurotunnel into France.
UK supermarkets say it will take days to clear the backlog and there may be a shortage of fresh produce during the holiday season.
Despite the deal, questions remain open on large areas, including security cooperation between the UK and the bloc and access of the vast UK financial services sector to the EU market.