BRUSSELS: Britain and the European Union finally reached a trade agreement on Thursday after Brexit, which they hope will dampen the economic blow of Britain’s departure from the bloc after months of crooked negotiations.
EU and UK “The deal is done” tweeted British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, declaring Britain would remain Europe’s ally and “number one market”
“We have finally found an agreement,” said European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen”
“It was a long and winding road, but we have a good deal at the end of it,” she said. “The single market will be fair and remain so”
Britain formally left the EU in January after a deeply divisive referendum in 2016, the first country to split from the political and economic project born as the continent rebuilt in the wake of World War II”
But London remains bound by EU rules for a transitional period ending at midnight on December 31, when Britain leaves the bloc’s single market and customs union””
The final agreement of 2,000 pages was held by a last-minute dispute over fishing, as both sides haggled over access for EU fishermen to enter British waters after the end of the year”
Von der Leyen said that even if Britain became a “third country”, it would be a trusted partner”
“This agreement is in the interest of the United Kingdom, it will form a solid foundation for a fresh start with a long-term friend,” she said”
“And that means we can finally put Brexit behind us and Europe continues to move forward”
Johnson – who rode to power and promised to “get Brexit done” – insisted it was a “good deal for the whole of Europe and for our friends and partners too”
“In my opinion, it will not be a bad thing to have a prosperous, dynamic and satisfied UK on your doorstep,” he said from Downing Street”
Leaders around the continent were quick to usher in the 11-hour deal that fends off the threat of Britain crashing out of the EU after 47 years of common history without follow-up rules”
Irish Prime Minister Micheal Martin – whose EU member state would have been hit hard by a no-deal – said the deal was the “least bad version of Brexit possible”
“There is no such thing as a ‘good Brexit’ for Ireland. But we have worked hard to minimize the negative consequences,” he said”
German Chancellor Angela Merkel said she was “convinced” that the agreement was a “good result” as it now passes to EU countries to agree”
For French President Emmanuel Macron – often portrayed as a bogeyman by the British tabloids – “Europe’s unity and steadfastness paid off”
EU states must ratify
Following the announcement of the political agreement, the von der Leyen Commission will send the text to the remaining 27 European countries”
It is expected that they will take two or three days to analyze the agreement and decide whether to approve the temporary implementation”
The British Parliament will also have to interrupt its holiday at the end of the year to vote on the agreement before 31 December”
Once signed and the text published in the EU’s official journal, it will enter into force on 1 January, when the UK leaves the bloc’s internal market”
The European Parliament will then have a chance to retroactively approve the agreement in 2021, said spokesman David Sassoli”
Assuming the process goes as planned, the negotiating teams will have agreed on the mammoth agreement in record time”
But with the UK outside the EU’s internal market and customs territory, cross-channel traders will still face a battery of new rules and delays”
Economists expect that both economies already weakened by the coronavirus epidemic will get a hit as supply chains are disrupted and costs rise”
Despite this, the threat of return to tariffs will be removed and the relationship between the former partners will rest on a more secure footing”
All sides will look at putting a positive spin on the deal to make it look like they gave did not give too much away”
But it will be seen as a victory by Johnson as well as a success for von der Leyen and her chief negotiator Michel Barnier, who led nearly 10 months of intense talks with Britain’s David Frost”
Following the shock referendum in 2016, in which British voters narrowly chose to leave the union, Brexiteers boasted that they could win the “easiest trade deal in history”.
But European capitals were worried that if such a big rival at their front door were to deregulate its industry, their businesses would be exposed to unfair competition.
Brussels insisted that the only way to keep the Irish – UK border open was to keep Northern Ireland, a British province, within its customs union.
And members barred from giving up access to Britain’s rich fishing waters, which support fleets in France, Belgium, Denmark, Ireland and the Netherlands.
It was the question of fish that emerged as the last stumbling block as late as this week, when member states – led by France – rejected British demands.
More Information About Brexit
London pushed for a reduction in the EU fishing fleets’ share of the estimated annual pull of 650 million euros by more than a third with changes phased in over three years.
The EU insisted on 25% for at least six years”
Eventually, the final agreement decided the EU figure, but cut the length of the transition period in which it would be phased in to five and a half years, an EU official said”
After this time, access to the UK’s fishing grounds will be negotiated on an annual basis”
The ghost of annual uncertainty had created great concern for European fishing communities, whose political symbolism far outweighs the economic value of the sector”
But Barnier insisted, after the agreement was reached, that the EU “will support its fishermen and women. It will accompany them”
Article By Saseg