Britain And The EU: Timeline Of A Troubled Marriage

(FILES) In this file photo taken on October 22, 2019 EU and Union flags belonging to both anti-Brexit and pro-Brexit activists, fly outside the Houses of Parliament. – Britain said on Thursday, December 24, an agreement had been secured on the country’s future relationship with the European Union, after last-gasp talks just days before a cliff-edge deadline. (Photo by Tolga AKMEN / AFP)

 

Even before Brexit, Britain and the European Union had an often troubled history.

– Twice turned away –
On August 9, 1961, Britain formally applies to join what was then called the European Economic Community (EEC).

But France’s president Charles de Gaulle vetoes the application in 1963, shutting the door again in 1967.

Britain finally enters the EEC on January 1, 1973, at the same time as Ireland and Denmark, after de Gaulle has left office.

In a referendum called by the new Labour government on whether to remain in the EEC on June 5, 1975, more than 67 percent of Britons vote “Yes”.

– Thatcher versus Europe –
On November 30, 1979, new Conservative prime minister Margaret Thatcher demands a rebate on Britain’s contribution to the European budget, reportedly saying: “I want my money back.” She gets her way in 1984.

Thatcher gives a speech in the Belgian city of Bruges on September 20, 1988, that becomes a rallying cry among eurosceptics for less European political integration.

– British opt-outs –
The Maastricht Treaty in 1992 ushers in a new era of political and economic integration. Britain secures an opt-out from some provisions, including joining a planned single currency.

After infighting over Europe in his governing Conservative Party, prime minister John Major survives a confidence vote on July 23, 1993.

– UK votes to leave –
In a June 23, 2016, referendum organised after the Conservatives come to power in 2015, Britain votes by 52 percent to 48 percent to quit the EU. Prime minister David Cameron, who had campaigned to remain, resigns.

The following year Cameron’s successor, Theresa May, starts the two-year countdown to Britain leaving the bloc with a formal letter of notice to EU president Donald Tusk.

Britain and the EU reach agreement on a divorce deal in November 2018.

– Impasse –
Britain’s lower house of parliament votes against the deal on January 15, 2019, the first of three times it will do so.

Brexit is delayed to March 29, then to June 30, then to October 31.

Leading Brexit campaigner Boris Johnson replaces May as prime minister on July 24, vowing to take Britain out of the EU with or without a deal.

– New deal, new delay –
With the clock ticking, on October 17 European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker and Johnson announce agreement on a new draft Brexit accord.

The British parliament delays its vote on the text, forcing Johnson to ask Brussels for a new Brexit postponement. It is set for January 31, 2020.

At a snap election in December 2019, Johnson’s Conservatives secure a large parliamentary majority, ensuring easy passage for his divorce deal.

– Brexit a reality, but… –
On January 31, 2020, Brexit eventually happens.

Crucial talks on future ties and trade with the bloc then start in March, but break deadline after deadline as negotiators try to avert a no-deal Brexit on December 31.

The two sides finally announce a deal on December 24 and Britain leaves the European customs union and single market at 2300 GMT on December 31.

Brexit Becomes Reality As UK Quits EU Single Market

) this file photo taken on January 5, 2020 shows the flags of the United Kingdom and the European Union. According to a British government source a 'deal is done' on post-Brexit trade. Kenzo TRIBOUILLARD / AFP
) this file photo taken on January 5, 2020 shows the flags of the United Kingdom and the European Union. According to a British government source a ‘deal is done’ on post-Brexit trade.
Kenzo TRIBOUILLARD / AFP

 

Britain on Thursday finally severed its turbulent half-century partnership with Europe, quitting the EU single market and customs union to go its own way four-and-a-half years after its shock vote to leave the bloc.

Brexit, which has dominated politics on both sides of the Channel since 2016, became a reality as Big Ben struck 11:00 pm (2300 GMT) in London, just as most of mainland Europe ushered in 2021.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson — the figurehead of the “Leave” campaign — described it as an “amazing moment” for the country and played up his upbeat narrative of a “Global Britain” unshackled from rules set in Brussels.

He vowed that post-Brexit Britain, despite being battered by a surge in coronavirus cases, would be an “open, generous, outward-looking, internationalist and free-trading” country.

“We have our freedom in our hands and it is up to us to make the most of it.”

On the front page of its Friday edition, the stridently anti-EU Daily Express showed a picture of the White Cliffs of Dover and the headline “Our future. Our Britain. Our destiny”.

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Legally, Britain left the European Union on January 31 but has been in a standstill transition period during fractious talks to secure a free-trade agreement with Brussels, which was finally clinched on Christmas Eve.

Now the transition is over, EU rules no longer apply. The immediate consequence is an end to the free movement of more than 500 million people between Britain and the 27 EU states.

Customs border checks return for the first time in decades, and despite the free-trade deal allowing Britain continued access to Europe’s nearly 450 million consumers, queues and disruption from additional paperwork are expected.

– ‘A bit of a headache’ –

At the Eurotunnel terminal in Calais, French officials began implementing the new formalities at midnight on the dot, starting with a truck coming from Romania carrying post and parcels.

Matt Smith, managing director of HSF Logistics, which ships mainly fresh meat and chilled goods between Britain and Europe, said he was sending around 15 truckloads to the EU on New Year’s Eve ahead of the changes.

The government’s new post-Brexit customs systems are largely untested and Smith was doubtful how his business would fare with the new paperwork.

“We’re not too sure to be honest, it seems to be a bit of a headache,” he told AFP. “There’ll be delays along the line at some stage.”

But for all the new barriers to come, Britain’s government boasted of an immediate Brexit dividend as it announced an end to value-added tax on tampons, making sanitary products cheaper for millions of women after the exit from EU tax rules.

– Lasting wounds –

Britain is the first member state to leave the EU, which was set up to forge unity after the horrors of World War II.

The 2016 referendum opened up abiding wounds between Leavers and Remainers, and ushered in years of political paralysis before Johnson took power last year, vowing to chart a future for Britain built on scientific innovation and new partnerships across the seas.

A parliamentary debate on Wednesday to ratify the trade deal was marked by elegiac farewells from pro-EU lawmakers, and warnings of disruption as Britain dismantles the intricate network of ties built since it joined the EU’s forerunner in 1973.

– Anxious wait for financial services –

While the EU tariff- and quota-free trade deal averted potential business chaos in the immediate future, the divorce will play out in many practical ways.

Changes apply to everything from pet passports, to how long Britons can visit their holiday homes on the continent and an end to British involvement in a student exchange programme.

Potential disruption at ports is stoking fears of food and medicine shortages, as well as delays to holidaymakers and business travellers used to seamless travel in the EU.

British fishermen are disgruntled at a compromise to allow continued access for EU boats in British waters.

The key financial services sector also faces an anxious wait to learn on what basis it can keep dealing with Europe, after being largely omitted from the trade agreement.

– ‘Keep the light on’ –

Northern Ireland’s border with EU member state Ireland will be closely watched to ensure movement is unrestricted — a key plank of a 1998 peace deal that ended 30 years of violence over British rule.

And in pro-EU Scotland, where Brexit has given a boost to calls for a new vote on independence, Johnson faces a potential constitutional headache as 2021 dawns.

Scotland’s pro-EU First Minister Nicola Sturgeon promised in a tweet: “Scotland will be back soon, Europe. Keep the light on.”

But opinion polls indicate that most Britons, on both sides of the referendum divide, want to move on and are far more worried about the worsening coronavirus pandemic, which has claimed 73,500 lives.

Johnson, who himself is among nearly 2.5 million struck down by the virus, warned of tough times ahead because of a resurgence of Covid-19 infections but said a UK-developed vaccine offered grounds for hope.

– ‘Friend and ally’ –

“It’s going to be better,” said Maureen Martin, from the port of Dover that lies across the Channel from France. “We need to govern ourselves and be our own bosses.”

Britain is a financial and diplomatic big-hitter and a major NATO power with a permanent seat on the UN Security Council and in the G7 grouping of the world’s richest economies.

The EU has now lost 66 million people and an economy worth $2.85 trillion, and there is regret that Britain wanted out.

French President Emmanuel Macron said Britain will remain “our friend and ally” but lamented that Brexit was the fruit of “a lot of lies and false promises”.

Britain’s chief trade negotiator David Frost tweeted: “Britain has just become a fully independent country again — deciding our own affairs for ourselves.”

But his EU opposite number, Michel Barnier, was more downbeat. “No one has been able to show me the added value of Brexit,” he told RTL radio.

“It’s a divorce… you can’t celebrate a divorce.”

Boarding a Eurostar train in Paris as the Brexit hour approached, Francois Graffin, 59, said he was going to pack up his life in London and return to live in France.

“It breaks my heart,” he said.

– Can’t blame the EU –

In Britain, Brexit has been the culmination of years of anti-Brussels agitation as the union morphed from a trading community to a more ambitious political project.

However, the 2016 referendum never spelt out what shape Brexit should take.

Johnson’s predecessor Theresa May repeatedly failed to drive through a “soft” separation that would have kept Britain largely bound to the EU.

But he drove a much harder bargain, to the profound unease of UK businesses and opposition parties.

Now after months of stormy negotiations that were repeatedly upended by the pandemic, Brussels, too, is keen to move on.

But UK lawmaker Chris Hazzard, from the Irish republican Sinn Fein party, said Brexit was far from over.

“When all the bluster dies down… it will become depressingly clear that this trade deal is… the beginning of a new trading relationship built on permanent negotiation, disputes and recriminations,” he warned.

The Daily Telegraph, where Johnson made his name as a Brussels-bashing Europe correspondent, said the government faced a new reality shorn of the EU bogeyman.

“Politicians will have to get used to bearing much greater responsibilities than they have been used to while the UK has been in the EU,” it said.

AFP

UK Leaves European Single Market As Brexit Takes Effect

(FILES) In this file photo taken on October 22, 2019 EU and Union flags belonging to both anti-Brexit and pro-Brexit activists, fly outside the Houses of Parliament. Photo by Tolga AKMEN / AFP

 

Brexit becomes a reality on Thursday as Britain leaves Europe’s customs union and single market, ending nearly half a century of often turbulent ties with its closest neighbours.

The UK’s tortuous departure from the European Union takes full effect when Big Ben strikes 11:00 pm (2300 GMT) in central London, just as most of the European mainland ushers in 2021 at midnight.

Brexit has dominated British politics since the country’s narrow vote to leave the bloc in June 2016, opening deep political and social wounds which remain raw.

But both sides are now keen to move on to a new future.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson called Brexit “a new beginning in our country’s history and a new relationship with the EU as their biggest ally”.

“This moment is finally upon us and now is the time to seize it,” he added. The British pound surged to a 2.5-year peak against the US dollar before the long-awaited departure from the single market.

Legally, Britain left the EU on January 31 but has been in a standstill transition period during fractious talks to secure a free-trade agreement with Brussels, which was finally clinched on Christmas Eve.

Once the transition ends, EU rules will no longer apply, with the immediate consequence being an end to the free movement of more than 500 million people between Britain and the 27 EU states.

Customs border checks will be back for the first time in decades, and despite the free-trade deal, queues and disruption from additional paperwork are expected.

Symbolic departure

Britain — a financial and diplomatic big-hitter plus a major NATO power — is the first member state to leave the EU, which was set up to forge unity after the horrors of World War II.

The EU has lost 66 million people and an economy worth $2.85 trillion, but Brexit, with its appeal to nationalist populism, also triggered fears other disgruntled members could follow suit.

“It’s been a long road. It’s time now to put Brexit behind us. Our future is made in Europe,” Commission president Ursula von der Leyen said on Wednesday, as she signed the trade pact.

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen (L) and European Council President Charles Michel (R) pose in Brussels, on December 30, 2020 as they show the signed Brexit trade agreement due to come into force on January 1, 2021. JOHANNA GERON / POOL / AFP
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen (L) and European Council President Charles Michel (R) pose in Brussels, on December 30, 2020 as they show the signed Brexit trade agreement due to come into force on January 1, 2021. JOHANNA GERON / POOL / AFP

 

British pro-Brexit newspapers hailed the new post-EU era. “A new dawn for Britain,” said the Daily Mail. The Sun said: “The New Year marks a glorious new chapter.”

The Daily Express evoked wartime prime minister Winston Churchill and called 11:00 pm the country’s “finest hour”.

But the Daily Telegraph, where Johnson made his name as a Brussels-bashing Europe correspondent, sounded a note of caution, with the EU having long been blamed for the country’s ills.

“Politicians will have to get used to bearing much greater responsibilities than they have been used to while the UK has been in the EU,” it said.

‘New beginning’

In January, flag-waving Brexiteers led by populist anti-EU former lawmaker Nigel Farage cheered and pro-EU “remainers” mourned.

But no formal events are planned for the end of the transition.

Public gatherings are banned due to the coronavirus outbreak, which has claimed more than 72,000 lives and infected more than 2.4 million in Britain, including Johnson himself.

In this file photo taken on November 19, 2019 Britain's Prime Minister and leader of the Conservative Party, Boris Johnson wears boxing gloves emblazoned with "Get Brexit Done" as he poses for a photograph at Jimmy Egan's Boxing Academy in Manchester north-west England on November 19, 2019, during a general election campaign trip. Frank Augstein / POOL / AFP
In this file photo taken on November 19, 2019 Britain’s Prime Minister and leader of the Conservative Party, Boris Johnson wears boxing gloves emblazoned with “Get Brexit Done” as he poses for a photograph at Jimmy Egan’s Boxing Academy in Manchester north-west England on November 19, 2019, during a general election campaign trip. Frank Augstein / POOL / AFP

 

Johnson is looking not only to a future free of Covid but also of rules set in Brussels, as Britain forges its own path for the first time since it joined the then European Economic Community in 1973.

On Wednesday, he hailed regulatory approval of Oxford University and AstraZeneca’s Covid vaccine, and a “new beginning” for a prosperous, more globally focused Britain.

As well as ensuring tariff- and quota-free access to the EU’s 450 million consumers, Britain has recently signed trade deals with countries including Japan, Canada, Singapore and Turkey.

It is also eyeing another with India, where Johnson plans to make his first major trip as prime minister next month, and with incoming US president Joe Biden’s administration.

Practical application

In the short term, all eyes will be closer to home and focused on how life outside the EU plays out in practical terms, from changes in pet passports to driving licence rules.

That includes disruption at the ports, stoking fears of food and medicine shortages, as well as delays to holidaymakers and business travellers used to seamless travel in the EU.

British fishermen are disgruntled at a compromise to allow continued access for EU boats in British waters.

The key financial services sector also faces an anxious wait to learn on what basis it can keep dealing with Europe, after being largely omitted from the trade deal.

Northern Ireland’s border with EU member state Ireland will be closely watched to ensure movement is unrestricted — a key plank of a 1998 peace deal that ended 30 years of violence over British rule.

And in Scotland, where most opposed Brexit, Johnson faces a potential constitutional headache from a resurgent independence movement.

After Brexit, Boris Johnson’s Father Seeks French Citizenship

 In this file photo taken on November 19, 2019 Britain's Prime Minister and leader of the Conservative Party, Boris Johnson wears boxing gloves emblazoned with "Get Brexit Done" as he poses for a photograph at Jimmy Egan's Boxing Academy in Manchester north-west England on November 19, 2019, during a general election campaign trip. Frank Augstein / POOL / AFP
In this file photo taken on November 19, 2019 Britain’s Prime Minister and leader of the Conservative Party, Boris Johnson wears boxing gloves emblazoned with “Get Brexit Done” as he poses for a photograph at Jimmy Egan’s Boxing Academy in Manchester north-west England on November 19, 2019, during a general election campaign trip. Frank Augstein / POOL / AFP

 

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s father Stanley confirmed plans on Thursday to seek French citizenship as the free movement of Britons in the EU comes to an end under the Brexit pact delivered by his son.

Speaking to France’s RTL radio in French, Stanley Johnson said: “It’s not a question of becoming French. If I understand correctly I am French! My mother was born in France, her mother was completely French as was her grandfather.

“For me it’s a question of obtaining what I already have and I am very happy about that,” the 80-year-old added.

READ ALSO: UK Finally Seals Exit From EU

The father of the politician who ended Britain’s 47-year-old membership of the EU was among the first civil servants appointed to Brussels after Britain joined the EU in 1973.

He worked for the European Commission and served as a member of the European Parliament.

He initially campaigned against leaving the EU before changing his mind a year after Britain voted to leave the union in 2016.

“I will always be European, that’s for sure,” he told RTL.

“You can’t tell the English: you’re not European. Europe is more than the single market, it’s more than the European Union.”

“That said, to have a link like that with the EU is important,” he said, apparently referring to an EU passport.

His plans to seek a French passport had already been revealed by his daughter Rachel in a book published in March.

She wrote that her grandmother was born in Versailles and said that if her father received French citizenship she too would like to become French.

The UK’s tortuous departure from the European Union takes full effect at 2300 GMT when an 11-month transition post-Brexit transition period comes to an end.\

 

AFP

EU Leaders Sign Brexit Deal As UK MPs Debate Ratification

(FILES) In this file photograph taken on January 29, 2020, British members of the European Parliament from the Group of the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats pose for a group picture wearing scarves depicting the European Union and the Union Jack flags at The Europa Building in Brussels.  (Photo by JOHN THYS / AFP)

 

EU leaders signed their post-Brexit trade deal with Britain and dispatched it to London on an RAF jet Wednesday, setting their seal on a drawn-out divorce just hours before the UK brings its half-century European experiment to an end.

EU chiefs Ursula von der Leyen and Charles Michel, the heads of the European Commission and European Council, smiled at a brief televised ceremony to put their names to the 1,246-page Trade and Cooperation Agreement.

“It has been a long road. It’s time now to put Brexit behind us. Our future is made in Europe,” von der Leyen said

Britain will leave the European single market and customs union at 11:00pm (2300 GMT) on Thursday, the end of a difficult year and of a post-Brexit transition period marked by intense and tortuous trade negotiations.

But first the hefty document, bound in blue leather, was flown by the Royal Air Force to London for Prime Minister Boris Johnson to add his signature, as the UK parliament began a rushed debate on the deal before the looming deadline.

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Introducing the legislation to ratify it, Johnson told lawmakers it heralded “a new relationship between Britain and the EU as sovereign equals, joined by friendship, commerce, history, interests and values”.

“With this bill we are going to be a friendly neighbour, the best friend and ally the EU could have,” he said.

London and Brussels would work “hand in glove whenever our values and interests coincide, while fulfilling the sovereign wish of the British people to live under their own sovereign laws made by their own sovereign parliament”, he added.

– Anxious wait –

Michel echoed the sentiment in Brussels, vowing the two sides would work “shoulder to shoulder” on major issues, including climate change and future health pandemics.

Johnson’s government only published the accompanying UK legislation on Tuesday afternoon — less than 24 hours before the debate began in parliament and an hour after the EU signing.

The government intends to ram all stages of the 85-page European Union (Future Relationship) Bill through the Commons and the House of Lords in one day, before Queen Elizabeth II formally signs it into law.

The last-ditch deal averted the prospect of a cliff-edge separation which would have seen quotas and tariffs slapped on all cross-Channel trade, exacerbating strains in the middle of the coronavirus pandemic, which has hit Britain harder than most.

But British fishermen have accused the government of selling them out, while services — accounting for 80 percent of the UK economy — were largely omitted.

The City of London faces an anxious wait to learn on what basis it can continue dealing with Europe in the future.

Theresa May, whose three-year Brexit-dominated premiership ended in 2019 after she failed to win support for a closer future relationship with the bloc, voiced her unease at the agreement.

“We have a deal in trade which benefits the EU, but not a deal in services which would have benefited the UK,” she told MPs.

– ‘Thin deal’ –

The legislation is set to pass, however, after an influential faction of arch-Brexiteers in Johnson’s ruling Conservatives gave their blessing to the EU agreement on Tuesday, and the main opposition Labour party signalled its reluctant backing.

Despite misgivings among some of his own MPs, who plan to abstain or vote against the agreement, Labour leader Keir Starmer said neutrality was not an option given the stakes for Britain.

“This is a thin deal, it’s got many flaws, but a thin deal is better than no deal,” Starmer told MPs.

Lawmakers from the pro-European Liberal Democrats and Scottish National Party (SNP) said they would vote against it — with the SNP using the issue to push for a fresh referendum on independence for Scotland.

“The only way to regain the huge benefits of EU membership is to become an independent state at the heart of Europe once more,” its leader in the UK parliament, Ian Blackford, said.

The agreement’s impact will play out in the coming months, with UK businesses braced for customs red tape they have avoided for decades in cross-Channel trade.

Meanwhile from January 1, there will no longer be free movement of people from Britain to the EU or vice versa.

Under the compressed legislative calendar, the European Parliament will debate the Brexit deal after the New Year, but they are expected to eventually nod it through.

Pending that, EU member states gave their green light on Monday for the accord to take provisional effect before Thursday’s deadline.

EU Member States Endorse Brexit Trade Deal

) this file photo taken on January 5, 2020 shows the flags of the United Kingdom and the European Union. According to a British government source a 'deal is done' on post-Brexit trade. Kenzo TRIBOUILLARD / AFP
) this file photo taken on January 5, 2020 shows the flags of the United Kingdom and the European Union. According to a British government source a ‘deal is done’ on post-Brexit trade.
Kenzo TRIBOUILLARD / AFP

 

The European Union gave the green light on Monday to its post-Brexit trade deal with the UK, clearing the way for it to come into effect in the New Year.

The British parliament will have to ratify the deal later this week, but Brussels will apply it provisionally, cushioning the economic shock of the divorce.

Customs and regulatory controls on cross-Channel commerce will still come into effect on January 1 after Britain leaves the EU single market.

But there will be no immediate return to a regime of tariffs and quotas that could have disrupted trade after Britain’s decision to quit the club.

Sebastian Fischer, spokesman for the German presidency of the EU, said: “EU Ambassadors have unanimously approved the provisional application of the EU-UK Trade and Cooperation Agreement.”

Under EU procedure, the decision by ambassadors from the 27 member states to endorse the plan will take effect at 3:00 pm (1400 GMT) on Tuesday.

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But there is no expectation that any EU members will now slow the adoption of the trade deal, the fruit of a tortuous 10-month negotiation.

Germany holds the rotating EU presidency and Chancellor Angela Merkel’s spokeswoman Ulrike Demmer said the coalition government has no objection to the text.

“Germany can accept the negotiated accord,” she said.

The European Parliament will want to study the deal even after its provisional application and was expected to convene a session in the first half of next year to ratify it.

But on Monday, MEPs were discussing the possibility of pushing that date back further to give themselves more time to study the text and to watch how relations develop.

– ‘Trust and support’ –

The member states’ provisional approval will last until the end of February, but EU parliamentary leaders asked on Monday for a few more weeks to arrange a vote in March or April.

But if London refuses this delay, they have agreed to hold a special plenary session on or around February 23.

Brussels’ chief negotiator Michel Barnier met the president of the European Parliament David Sassoli and the MEPs coordinating EU-UK ties on Monday.

He described the exchanges as “fruitful” and thanked the MEPs “for their trust and support throughout this extraordinary negotiation.”

British parliamentarians are to meet on Wednesday to debate the accord.

Although the 2016 Brexit referendum that set the divorce in motion proved to be extremely divisive, the vote is expected to go smoothly.

The MPs have not had long to study the 1,200-page text, but Prime Minister Boris Johnson has a comfortable majority of Conservative MPs in the Commons and has hailed the accord as a victory.

The minority Scottish National Party will oppose the deal — as it opposed Brexit — but the main Labour opposition will back it to avoid further disruption.

The deal offers the British duty-free and quota-free access to its market of 450 million consumers, and gives European fishermen access to UK waters for at least another five-and-a-half years.

But it provides for Europe to impose compensatory measures on British business if London backslides on standards for state aid, the environment, labour law and taxation.

 

Britain, EU Release Full Text Of Post-Brexit Trade Deal

EU Chief Negotiator for Brexit Michel Barnier (C) is watched by a Greek representative carrying a folder containing the 2000 page ‘Brexit Trade Deal’ as he arrives ahead of a special meeting of The Committee of the Permanent Representatives of the Governments of the Member States to the European Union (Coreper) at the European Council in Brussels on December 25, 2020.
Olivier HOSLET / POOL / AFP

 

 

Britain and the European Union on Saturday published the full text of the post-Brexit trade agreement aimed at governing their relationship when the UK definitively leaves the bloc’s single market in just five days’ time.

The document, which is more than 1,200 pages long, lays out detail on trade, law enforcement and dispute settlement among other arrangements between Britain and the EU after the UK leaves the single market and customs union on 31 December.

In the foreward to the copy of the text published by the UK government, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said the agreement had been “carefully judged to benefit everyone” and preserve “free trade for millions of people in the United Kingdom and across Europe”.

“While we made our fair share of compromises during the negotiations, we never wavered from the goal of restoring national sovereignty,” he added.

Senior UK government minister Michael Gove wrote in The Times newspaper that Thursday’s agreement would allow Britain to bring “innovation and investment to parts of the country that have endured economic decline”.

He added there were still “significant changes” to be prepared for by businesses in the short term.

To ratify the deal, Britain’s parliament has been recalled to sit on December 30. A vote in favour is virtually assured after the UK’s main opposition Labour Party said its MPs would back it.

In Brussels, the European Commission has proposed the agreement be applied on a provisional basis until 28 February.

The European Parliament will be asked for its consent to the deal in 2021 and for the process to be concluded the Council, which brings together the executives of all 27 member states, must adopt the decision.

-AFP

European Leaders Hail Post-Brexit Deal

(FILES) In this file photo taken on October 22, 2019 EU and Union flags belonging to both anti-Brexit and pro-Brexit activists, fly outside the Houses of Parliament. (Photo by Tolga AKMEN / AFP)

 

Political leaders in Europe on Thursday hailed the belated sealing of a UK-EU post-Brexit deal that aims to lay the groundwork for long-term future cooperation.

– Britain –

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson lauded what he termed “a good deal for the whole of Europe,” which offers “a new stability and a new certainty” to relations.

Former prime ministers David Cameron and Theresa May, who both resigned over Brexit, dubbed the deal “very welcome”. May said it “provides confidence to business and helps keep trade flowing”.

– European Union –

“It was worth fighting for this deal. We now have a fair & balanced agreement with the UK. It will protect our EU interests, ensure fair competition & provide predictability for our fishing communities,” said European Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen.

Chief EU negotiator Michel Barnier warned “this agreement will require efforts”, and notably pledged support to EU fishermen and women after fishing proved the toughest of issues to resolve.

– Ireland –

Irish Prime Minister Micheal Martin said the deal “represents a good compromise and a balanced outcome” which will avoid a hard border on the border with Northern Ireland, stressing “the UK will always be a close friend and partner”.

READ ALSO: EU Gives Up 25% Of Fish Quota In UK Waters

– Northern Ireland –

“This is the start of a new era in the relationship between the UK and the EU and in Northern Ireland we will want to maximise the opportunities the new arrangements provide for our local economy,” said First Minister Arlene Foster.

– Scotland –

“Before the spin starts, it’s worth remembering that Brexit is happening against Scotland’s will. And there is no deal that will ever make up for what Brexit takes away from us. It’s time to chart our own future as an independent, European nation,” said First Minister Nicola Sturgeon.

– France –

“Europe’s unity and firmness paid off,” tweeted President Macron, adding “the agreement with the United Kingdom is essential to protect our citizens, our fishermen, our producers” and concluding that “Europe is progressing, and can look to the future, united, sovereign and strong”.

– Germany –

German Chancellor Angela Merkel said she was “confident” the deal represents a “good outcome” that Germany would be able to support.

– Spain –

Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez tweeted “the principle of an agreement between the EU and the United Kingdom is welcome”, while adding that Madrid and London must continue talking on the status of Gibraltar.

– Netherlands-

“Excellent news that an agreement on a new EU-UK partnership has been reached after tough negotiations,” Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte tweeted, complimenting Michel Barnier and European Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen for “their tireless efforts”.

– Portugal –

“I warmly welcome the reaching of an agreement with the United Kingdom,” Portuguese Prime Minister Antonio Costa tweeted, underlining that the UK will remain an important partner and ally.

– Italy –

“Good news: deal between the EU and the UK has been agreed,” tweeted Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte. “Interests and rights of European businesses and citizens guaranteed. The UK will be a central partner and ally for the EU and Italy.”

– Austria –

“I welcome that an agreement could be reached by the negotiators on the EU’s future relationship with the UK. We will now carefully examine the agreement,” tweeted Chancellor Sebastian Kurz.

– Romania –

“Romania welcomes the agreed partnership on future relations. This agreement will protect the interests of companies & citizens — Romania’s key objectives during these negotiations,” tweeted President Klaus Iohannis.

– Denmark –

“Draft agreement is the best Christmas gift EU27 & UK can give each other,” tweeted Foreign Minister Jeppe Kofod.

Gibraltar Still Hanging After Brexit Deal – Spain PM

Spain’s Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez speaks to the press as he arrives at the EU headquarters’ Europa building in Brussels on December 10, 2020, prior to a European Union summit.
JOHN THYS / POOL / AFP

 

Madrid and London have yet to reach agreement on the status of Gibraltar, Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez said Thursday after Britain and EU finally sealed a Brexit trade deal.

The easy flow of people and goods across the border from Spain which underpins the economy of Gibraltar, a tiny British territory on the southern tip of the Iberian Peninsula, risks ending when Britain leaves the EU at midnight on December 31.

“Spain and the United Kingdom are continuing dialogue to reach an accord on Gibraltar,” Sanchez said on his Twitter account after hailing the accord between Brussels and London.

Madrid, London and Gibraltar have been working out the status issues separately from the 10 months of Brexit trade negotiations that finally ended Thursday’s deal.

“For us… the clock is still ticking,” said Gibraltar government chief Fabian Picardo, while adding that he was “optimistic that we will be able to finalise that agreement.”

The enclave is entirely dependent on imports to supply its 34,000 residents, and each day some 15,000 people cross into Gibraltar from Spain every day to work, accounting for half of the territory’s workforce.

Without an accord, the movement of goods between Gibraltar and Spain will be subject to customs procedures from January 1, with unwanted economic consequences.

READ ALSO: UK-France Border To Stay Open At Christmas 

Picardo told AFP late last month that Gibraltar was considering joining the visa-free Schengen area — which Britain has never been part of — to avoid this hurdle.

“We are looking for an accord that will allow maximum fluidity,” he said.

Spain ceded Gibraltar to Britain in perpetuity in 1713 following a military struggle, but Madrid has long wanted it back.

In 2013, a dispute over an artificial reef in waters claimed by both sides sparked a war of words that triggered months of gridlock at the border after Spain intensified checks, which ended only after Brussels stepped in.

Post-Brexit Borders To Divide EU, UK Citizens

) this file photo taken on January 5, 2020 shows the flags of the United Kingdom and the European Union. According to a British government source a 'deal is done' on post-Brexit trade. Kenzo TRIBOUILLARD / AFP
File photo taken on January 5, 2020 shows the flags of the United Kingdom and the European Union. According to a British government source a ‘deal is done’ on post-Brexit trade.
Kenzo TRIBOUILLARD / AFP

 

From January 1 British and EU citizens will be confronted with the reality of Brexit as the transition period ends and borders that were done away with decades ago return.

From that date, Britons will be treated by the EU as “third country” nationals, no longer enjoying freedom of movement to work, study or retire across the European Union.

Britain in turn will process EU nationals at its borders as it does other non-UK passport holders.

EU citizens proving residence in Britain, or Britons already living in a European Union country, will theoretically retain their rights under a Withdrawal Agreement struck in late 2019.

– Tourists –

Tourists will see some immediate changes — apart from the fluctuating coronavirus restrictions already crimping travel — but both sides have agreed that travel will be visa-free, as long as the other side keeps it that way.

But the EU will stop British passports being used in its automated e-gates, potentially meaning longer queues at manned passport booths.

READ ALSO: EU Gives Up 25% Of Fish Quota In UK Waters

Britons must hold passports still valid for at least six months and will be limited to EU stays of 90 days in a rolling 180-day period.

They will also need to show travel insurance coverage, sufficient funds and a return ticket on request.

Europeans entering Britain can use a national ID card until October, after which only passports will be accepted, for stays of up to six months.

EU passport holders will be able to continue using British e-gates under current guidance.

Those with criminal records may be banned and non-European family members of a European may need a visa, depending on nationality.

The UK treats Irish citizens separately from other EU nationals under a bilateral arrangement dating back nearly a century that allows continued freedom of movement between Britain and Ireland.

Europeans will be able to keep using EU pet passports as long as rabies vaccines are up to date. Britons however must see a vet to prepare their pets for travel a month before their trip to an EU country.

– Business travellers –

The EU-UK deal reached Thursday has set out the visa requirements for business travellers, the details of which are yet to be made public.

In the EU, Britons attending conferences or meetings likely will be exempt from visas where they do not receive payment or provide services.

However, for other UK business travellers, including posted workers and the self-employed, a visa and/or a work permit may be imposed in line with each individual EU country’s laws.

There will also be tax and social security considerations.

Certain services or company ownership in those countries may be off-limits to non-EU citizens or residents or those lacking national licences, and customs declarations may be needed for goods brought in.

In Britain, EU citizens with a job offer will be required to prove English-language skills and a minimum salary, dependent on whether the position is skilled (26,500 pounds, equivalent to 29,600 euros or $35,000) or a shortage occupation (20,480 pounds, 22,800 euros).

– Students and universities –

From January, EU students going to Britain will need a visa for courses longer than six months, and will have to pay steeper tuition fees — four times as much for degrees such as medicine or MBAs at prestigious universities.

That hefty burden may force many European students to choose EU institutions — some of which are free — over British ones, which UK universities fear will blow a big hole in their finances.

They also say they are already being shunned for research projects led by EU universities.

According to UK parliament research, there were 143,000 EU students in British universities in the 2018 to 2019 school year.

International students have made Britain the second-most popular education destination after the US, and they injected £25.8 billion (29 billion euros, or $34 billion) into the UK economy in 2015.

British students will be excluded from the Erasmus+ programme offering subsidised exchanges to EU countries.

British students wanting to go to EU universities will encounter higher fees in some countries as well as visa requirements that in many cases will curb their right to work.

– Emigrants –

For the estimated 1.3 million Britons living in the EU and the more than four million EU citizens living in the UK before the end of the transition period, their rights to stay are protected under the 2019 Withdrawal Agreement.

Those wanting to emigrate elsewhere in the EU after January 1 will find a very different situation.

Britons, for example, have long favoured Spain, France, Germany and Italy to set down new roots as workers or retirees.

But the end of freedom of movement will see them having to jump through the same hoops as other “third country” nationals, which often include health insurance, income and language requirements.

Even Britons settled under the Withdrawal Agreement will no longer have automatic rights to move to a different EU country, and will face national immigration laws if they want to do so.

Britain, for its part, is bringing in a points-based system from 2021 that will make it significantly harder for Europeans to move there.

Age, English language ability, funds and the requirement to pay a health surcharge will all be evaluated, with caps on some of the immigration channels.

 

EU Gives Up 25% Of Fish Quota In UK Waters

(FILES) In this file photograph taken on January 29, 2020, British members of the European Parliament from the Group of the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats. (Photo by JOHN THYS / AFP)

 

European Union fishing fleets will have to give up a quarter of their current catch in British waters over the next five and a half years, officials said Thursday.

Under the post-Brexit trade deal agreed with the UK, after this transitional period access to its rich fishing grounds would be negotiated on an annual basis.

This represents a compromise. Earlier in the negotiations Britain was pushing for an 80 or 60 percent cut in the EU’s share, phased in over only three years.

Boats from the continent will also be allowed to work in British inshore waters less than 12 nautical miles from shore during the transition.

But it will still be a bitter pill to swallow for many fishing communities in northwestern Europe, which have worked what are now UK waters for centuries.

The issue of fishing was one of the hardest to resolve in the ten month post-Brexit trade negotiation, and at times threatened to derail the deal.

READ ALSO: UK-France Border To Stay Open At Christmas 

“After 5.5 years it will be renegotiated,” a European diplomat said, acknowledging concerns that Britain could shut out EU boats.

But he warned: “If that does not produce sufficient results, the treaty gives the EU the opportunity to take action.”

This would mean initially that, if the EU is not satisfied with the new quota it could impose measures against the UK fishing sector.

“But ultimately if necessary also, via an escalation ladder, on the entire agreement.”

British negotiators had resisted this provision.

Chief EU negotiator Michel Barnier vowed Brussels would stand by Europe’s fishing fleets after Britain leaves the union on December 31.

“This agreement will require efforts,” Barnier said. “I know the European Union will support its fishermen and women. It will accompany them.”

 

‘Confident’ Brexit Deal Is ‘Good Outcome,’ Says Merkel

German Chancellor Angela Merkel looks on as she arrives to answer MPs’ questions regarding the coronavirus Covid-19 pandemic on December 16, 2020, at the Bundestag (lower house of parliament) in Berlin. (Photo by Odd ANDERSEN / AFP)

 

German Chancellor Angela Merkel said she was “confident” a Brexit deal hammered out between the European Union and the United Kingdom on Thursday was a “good outcome”.

“We will quickly be able to determine whether Germany can support today’s result of the negotiations,” she said in a statement, adding that her cabinet would meet in a telephone conference Monday to review the accord.

READ ALSO: EU Gives Up 25% Of Fish Quota In UK Waters

“I am very confident that we have a good result.”

Merkel, who holds the rotating EU presidency until the end of the year, said it was of “historic importance” that the bloc and Britain had managed to reach agreement on their future ties.

“With this deal, we create the basis for a new chapter in our relations,” she said.

“Even outside the European Union, Britain will remain an important partner for Germany and the European Union.”