The European Union and Britain have agreed a post-Brexit trade deal after almost ten months of tortuous negotiations to govern ties when the UK exits the single market.
The deal announced on Thursday means that this goods trade – roughly half of the $900 billion of annual EU-UK commerce – will remain free of tariffs and quotas.
“We’ve taken back control of our laws and our destiny. We’ve taken back control of every jot and tittle of our regulation in a way that is complete, and unfettered,” British Prime Minister Boris Johnson declared on Thursday evening.
EU Commission president Ursula von der Leyen was more measured.
“At the end of a successful negotiations journey I normally feel joy. But today, I only feel quiet satisfaction and, frankly speaking, relief,” she said, citing English playwright William Shakespeare: “Parting is such sweet sorrow.”
She also warned that, protected by the deal from unfair British competition, “The single market will be fair and remain so.”
And she urged the 440 million Europeans remaining in the 27-nation union to put the drama of the four years since Britain’s Brexit referendum behind them and to look to the future.
“I say it is time to leave Brexit behind. Our future is made in Europe,” she said.
Here is what we know so far about the 2,000-page accord, still yet to be published, that covers areas from fishing to future competition after December 31.
No tariffs and quotas
The deal means there will be no tariffs or quotas on goods produced in the UK and EU moving between the two sides.
British exports still have to comply with EU health and safety standards and there are strict rules governing products made with parts originating outside the EU or UK.
London has hailed the lack of tariffs as a major positive of the deal, but it simply helps maintain part of the benefits Britain already enjoyed as a member of the bloc.
Compromise on fishing rights
Future access for EU fisherman to Britain’s rich water was one of the thorniest, and politically combustible, issues, and the last piece of the puzzle to fall into place before the deal could be announced.
Britain had insisted it wanted to take back full control of its waters while EU coastal states sought to guarantee their fleets could keep fishing in UK waters.
In the end the two sides reached a hard fought compromise that will see EU boats gradually relinquish 25 percent of their current quotas during a five-and-a-half year transition period.
After that there will be annual negotiations on the amount of fish EU vessels can take from British waters, and if Brussels isn’t happy it can impose economic measures against the UK.
“The industry will be bitterly disappointed that there is not more of definitive break,” Barrie Deas, chief executive of UK’s National Federation of Fishermen’s Organisations, said. “It’s a bit of a fudge.”
Britain backs down on level-playing field
Another major stumbling block was the so-called “level playing field” regulations that the EU insisted on to prevent British firms having an advantage over European rivals if London lowers standards in future, or subsidises industries.
The UK had fought hard to avoid having a system put in place that could see Brussels able to force it to follow its rules on such issues as environmental or labour regulations and state aid.
But the UK government admitted the deal allowed for either side to impose “countermeasures if they believe they are being damaged” subject to arbitration.
Which other ties are effected or will be downgraded?
The deal does not envisage cooperation on the same level as before Brexit in many areas.
Financial and business services, the backbone of UK exports, are only included to a small extent.
The same is true of cooperation on foreign policy, security and defence, while provisions for transport, energy and civil nuclear cooperation will be below current levels.
Mobile roaming, mutual recognition of professional qualifications, access to legal services, digital trade and public procurement are other areas where cooperation will be downgraded.
While the EU and the UK agreed not to require visas for travel, free movement of people will end.
That means EU citizens going to the UK, and vice-versa, will be subject to border screening and no longer able to use biometric passports to cross swiftly through electronic gates.
Cutting through the tape on trade
Britain will leave the EU’s customs union along with the single market at the end of the year, meaning that businesses face new red tape for imports and exports across the Channel.
The UK said the agreement allows for the recognition of “trusted trader” schemes that could cut bureaucracy on both sides, but it is yet to be seen how widely this can be applied.
New plan on security cooperation
The EU says the agreement “establishes a new framework for law enforcement and judicial cooperation in criminal and civil law matters”.
London said the deal will see the two continue to share DNA, fingerprint and passenger details and see them cooperate through the EU’s Europol.
Brussels says “security cooperation can be suspended in case of violations by the UK of its commitment for continued adherence to the European Convention of Human Rights”.
SOURCE: TRT | PHOTO: DHL