More than 1,600 days after the United Kingdom voted to leave the European Union, a final trade deal has been agreed to that will avoid border and economic chaos on New Year’s Day.
- Some 1,664 days since the 2016 Brexit referendum, a final trade deal has been agreed to by the UK an the European Union
- The deal will ensure tariff and quota free trade between the two that makes up half of nearly $1bn in yearly commerce
- The deal still needs approval from the UK parliament and the 27 EU member states
The deal brings an end to a four-year divorce period since the 2016 Brexit referendum, and signals the end of the UK’s membership of the European bloc it had been a part of since 1973.
The 500-page agreement will mean there are no quotas or tariffs on the goods trade than makes up half of the annual commerce between the UK and EU, worth more than $1 trillion.
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen told a press conference in Brussels the deal was “fair” and “balanced”.
“It was a long and winding road,” she said.
“But we have got a good deal to show for it.
“It is fair, it is a balanced deal, and it is the right and responsible thing to do for both sides.”
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson tweeted a picture of himself inside Downing Street, raising both arms in a thumbs-up gesture of triumph, with the words “The deal is done”.
“We have taken back control of our destiny,” he said during a press conference at Downing Street.
“People said it was impossible, but we have taken back control.
“We will be an independent coastal state.
“We will be able to decide how and where to stimulate new jobs.”
Deal delayed to the very end
A deal had seemed imminent for almost a day, until haggling over just how much fish EU boats should be able to catch in British waters delayed the announcement of one of the most important trade deals in recent European history.
Although the UK officially left the EU on January 31 this year, it has been in a transition period to negotiate a free trade deal for when Britain leaves the EU’s single market and customs union at midnight on December 31.
The 11-month transition period was to allow for negotiations on a free trade deal with the EU and its 27 member nations.
On Thursday afternoon, just a week out from the deadline, an agreement was finally reached on how future trade will look between Britain and its largest economic partner.
The UK parliament will be recalled on December 30 to vote on the deal, which will likely pass with support from the opposition Labour party, while EU ambassadors from all 27 member states will meet on Christmas Day to review it.
Mr Johnson could still face a backlash from members of his own Conservative Party, with MPs from the Euro-skeptic European Research Group likely to closely examine the deal and take issue with any perceived concessions from the UK side on disputed areas such as fishing rights and business competition.
p class=”_1HzXw”>More to come.