Britain and the European Union managed to agree on Brexit right at Christmas. London and Brussels managed to come to a common denominator a few days before the final UK exit from their EU. Apparently, the “tough divorce” was avoided.
The future of relations between Great Britain and a united Europe was at stake. There was a great chance that the parties would not be able to come to an agreement – and then the situation would develop according to a scenario unpleasant for them.
The UK withdrew from the European Union on January 31, 2020, following a 2016 referendum, in which 51.9% of British voters supported their country’s exit from the EU. Although Britain subsequently lost its representation and the right to vote in the pan-European authorities, it remained temporarily part of a single economic space – and this time will expire with 2020. London and Brussels were given 11 months to agree on new terms of trade and cooperation. The negotiations went on for a long time, hard, constantly reaching a dead end – and the specter of a “hard Brexit” loomed very menacingly.
If the deal did not take place, the “divorcing” European Union and Britain, between which until now goods moved absolutely freely across the border. would have to switch from the new year to trade under the terms of the WTO, with duties and quotas. The British media have already painted an unsightly picture when the inhabitants of the kingdom would face a shortage of goods from the continent and increased prices for them after New Year’s Eve.
The EU has pushed for the UK to commit to following EU rules on government subsidies, health, and safety, technological and environmental requirements for production, etc. The problem of maintaining the access of fishermen from the EU countries to British waters has also become a sore subject.
And so the parties managed to find compromises. “It took a while, but now we have an agreement,” said European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen with obvious relief. – It was a long and thorny path. But the result is good. It’s a fair, balanced deal. ”
“Everything that was promised to the British in the referendum in 2016 and during the general elections was implemented in this deal,” the British government reported on the outcome of painful negotiations with the European Union. “We have regained control of our money, borders, laws, trade, and our fishing waters.”
London has signed the first-ever zero-tariff and quota-based treaty with the European Union, according to the UK government: “This is the largest bilateral deal signed by the parties and regulates trade, which totaled £ 668 billion in 2019.”
The deal reached concerns relations between the European Union and Britain in trade, transport, fisheries, energy, security cooperation, and other areas.
According to the leaks, in the end, Brussels’ initial demand for London to automatically follow EU rules was tweaked towards some kind of “reactive mechanism”, according to the BBC. And the parties will be able to respond with duties in specific cases if the partner tries to seriously make life easier for their firms through subsidies, benefits, or lower requirements for working and production conditions.
As for fishing, according to the data available so far, they came to the conclusion that for a transitional period for several years, fishermen from the EU countries will retain the right to fish in British waters. True, the fishing quota will be less than it was up to now.
The preservation of free duty-free trade between Britain and the EU was called the main result of the agreements reached.
As noted by the BBC, the agreement reached should be discussed and pre-approved by the ambassadors of the EU countries in Brussels. Then comes the turn of its approval by the European Council and the British Parliament. And if all goes well, the agreement will enter into force on New Year’s Eve from December 31, 2020, to January 1, 2021, when the UK will finally leave the European Union. So politicians on both sides of the English Channel will have to work hard to get everything done before the new year begins.