Britain is set for a new chapter on Friday after securing a post-Brexit trade deal with the European Union, as EU envoys awaited a briefing on an agreement reached only after months of torturous negotiations.
The country will now not collapse from a commercial “cliff” on January 1, avoiding a mountain of tariffs and quotas.
But big changes are inevitable as Britain leaves the EU single market for good and free movement with the blockade comes to an end after nearly half a century of integration.
Britain was in a transitional period of deadlock still subject to the rules of the blockade since it officially left the EU on January 31.
Standing in front of a Downing Street Christmas tree in a video message late Thursday, Prime Minister Boris Johnson boasted the hundreds of pages of text as “a” good deal for all of Europe “and a” gift “for Great Britain. Brittany.
The address was “a victory speech,” Anand Menon, a UK director at a think tank that changes Europe, told AFP.
“Boris Johnson was elected prime minister to finish Brexit, now he’s finally done Brexit,” Menon said.
Johnson has come under fierce criticism for his handling of the coronavirus outbreak in the country, which has so far claimed nearly 70,000 deaths, the heaviest toll in Europe.
In the past few days, thousands of trucks have been backed up in Channel ports after France and other European partners blocked crossings due to increasing cases of a new variant of the virus believed to spread faster.
Some pointed out that the transport chaos, which sparked fears of a shortage of fresh produce, could be a taste of what the country was waiting for if it exited the EU single market without a deal.
Fears of fishermen
The EU has given Britain unprecedented access to tariffs and quotas to its single market of 450 million consumers.
But in exchange he secured London’s commitment to abide by its ever-changing rules in certain areas such as environmental protection, labor regulation and taxes, with the aim of preventing Britain from undercutting companies in the inside the block.
The UK has also signed guarantees that they will not abuse state aid to businesses to seek an unfair advantage.
It was the fish issue that emerged as the latest hurdle this week when London pushed to reduce the EU fishing fleets’ share of the estimated annual cargo of € 650 million (€ 586 million, € 790 million) by more than a third. Millions of dollars).
The final agreement established a 25% cut to be phased in over a five and a half year period.
EU officials have pledged to support their fisheries sector through painful cuts, one of the main drawbacks of a deal that European Commission head Ursula von der Leyen has called “fair and balanced” overall.
With the agreement now shared with the bloc’s 27 member countries, their ambassadors will meet in Brussels on Christmas Day.
It is expected that it will take two to three days to analyze the agreement and decide whether to approve its interim implementation.
“Relief rather than celebration”
For Britain, “the fact that a deal has been agreed is in many ways a remarkable achievement,” judged the Times newspaper.
However, the final package is “a source of relief rather than celebration,” he added, with new restrictions including an end to free movement in the UK for European workers and in the EU for the British.
Young people will be impressed with Britain’s withdrawal from the continent-spanning Erasmus student exchange program, to be replaced by an in-house program named for pioneering computer scientist Alan Turing.
“The deal is hardly the end of the process. Now that (Johnson) has kept his promise to bring Brexit to an end, his challenge is to make it,” the Times warned.
The Left Guardian was tougher, saying “Johnson deserves no credit for dodging a calamity looming so close because he drove so eagerly towards it.”
In fact, the daily adds, the agreement “prescribes an immediate downgrade for the British economy”.
British MPs will discuss the text of the deal on Wednesday, but there is no doubt that it will be approved after the opposition Labor Party pledges to support.
On the European side, provisional approval by national capitals must be followed by a vote in the European Parliament at the beginning of 2021.
(This story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is automatically generated from a syndicated feed.)