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Brexit trade deal agreed between EU and UK

“This agreement will write history,” European Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen said.

50754986342_a6cce9420a_c The moment after a post-Brexit trade deal was struck. Source: Andrew Parsons/No10 Downing St

THE UK AND the EU negotiating teams have reached a deal in post-Brexit trade talks.

“We have finally found an agreement,” European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said at a press conference held at 2.55pm.

In London, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson said: “we’ve taken back control of our laws… of every jot and tittle” of UK laws and regulations.

Johnson said the deal is around 500 pages long.

Reports had been circulating for the past 24 hours that a final deal was imminent, but a last-minute hitch on fisheries held an announcement up confirming the news.

“Clearly they’re still negotiating, and still trying to finalise a deal, but certainly the momentum is that we will get a Christmas Eve Brexit deal,” Foreign Affairs Minister Simon Coveney said this morning.

“Hopefully Brexit will provide us with good news this Christmas Eve.”

Some of the details in the deal

In her statement at the European Commission, von der Leyen thanked UK chief negotiator David Frost and his team for being “tough but fair” in negotiations.

Von der Leyen said that there would be a review four years from now to ensure that the level playing field provisions are being adhered to.

She said that if the UK does not follow the rules then there will be quotas and tariffs, “so there is a price to pay for that”.

“This agreement will write history,” von der Leyen said.

EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier said “The clock is no longer ticking.”

Today is a day of relief, but tinged with some sadness, as we compare what came before with what lies ahead.

Barnier said that one of his greatest regrets was that the UK decided not to participate in the Erasmus programme, but that it was a decision of the British negotiating team.

A Downing Street source said: “We have taken back control of our money, borders, laws, trade and our fishing waters.

The deal is fantastic news for families and businesses in every part of the UK. We have signed the first free trade agreement based on zero tariffs and zero quotas that has ever been achieved with the EU.

“The deal is the biggest bilateral trade deal signed by either side, covering trade worth £668 billion in 2019.”

The deal takes the UK out of the “lunar pull of the EU”, no longer bound by Brussels’ rules or the judgments of the European Court of Justice.

“All of our key red lines about returning sovereignty have been achieved,” the source said.

“It means that we will have full political and economic independence on January 1 2021.”

The trade deal in context

On 31 January this year the UK officially left the European Union, resulting in its MEPs leaving the European Parliament and the UK no longer having an EU Commissioner.

Between that date and 31 December, known as the “transition period”, it remained part of the Single Market and Customs Union.

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Trade talks have been ongoing since March in London and Brussels.

Over 97% of the issues had been agreed upon and drafted into a legal text weeks ago; the remaining obstacles that held up a final deal related to level-playing-field rules, a dispute resolution mechanism, and fisheries. 

Trade arrangements for Northern Ireland, being researched and discussed by a separate committee, had been agreed on 8 December.

A political decision was needed in the final weeks of the year to secure a trade deal; ratification by the European Parliament and House of Commons is still needed before the new trading arrangements can come into effect.

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