Britain, EU finally striking on Brexit trade deal

BRUSSELS (AP) – EU and UK negotiators worked through the night and Christmas Eve to put a finishing touch on a trade deal that should prevent a chaotic economic pause between the two sides next week.

The trade would change when it arrived on 1 January, when Britain left the block’s single market and the customs union. But both sides are working furiously to avoid a nightmare scenario, in which implementing tariffs and duties would cost billions in trade and hundreds of thousands of jobs and potentially so many snarl ports through multiple goods Will have to struggle to achieve. This possibility was clearly interpreted this week when a brief French blockade of British trucks over Coronovirus concerns caused chaos at the ports that are still being resolved.

After resolving almost all the sticking points remaining, negotiators combed through hundreds of pages of legal text on Thursday that should become the blueprint of the post-Brexit relationship.

During most of the nine-month negotiations, the issue of the European Union’s fishing fleet in British waters proved to be the most intractable and divisive, when negotiators were still wandering for quotas of a few different species, as dawn occurred and departed .

Nevertheless, sources on both sides said that long and difficult negotiations were underway to remain wrapped up as negotiators, with a stack of pizzas at the EU headquarters in Brussels, working to distribute the text to their leaders on Thursday did.

Irish Foreign Affairs Minister Simon Coveney said there seemed to be “some kind of last minute bottleneck” about the fish, but it was not surprising. He said he expected London and Brussels to announce an agreement “later today”.

The agreement would then go to the 27 EU countries for the approval of the consensus, along with the blessings of the European Union and the British Parliaments. It is expected to get those approvals.

The UK currency, the pound, rose 0.5% against the dollar under $ 1.36 to meet expectations of a deal.

It has been 4 1/2 years since Britain voted 52% -48% to leave the European Union – in the words of “Brexiters’ campaign slogan -” back control “of Britain’s borders and laws.

In the UK, on ​​31 January, the block’s political structures quarreled for more than three years before leaving. How the negotiations disaffected economies, which were closely linked as part of the EU’s single market for goods and services.

Despite the apparent success, key aspects of future relations between the 27-nation bloc and its former member remain uncertain. But it leaves the mutually dependent, often fractional UK-EU relationship – and in its 675 billion pound ($ 918 billion) annual trade – at a more solid footing than a disruptive no-deal split.

If a deal is announced, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson will be able to claim to fulfill the promise that led him to a stunning electoral victory a year ago: “Get Brexit.”

Even with an agreement, trade between Britain and the European Union will face customs scrutiny and other hurdles on 1 January. But an agreement would lead to more devastating effects of tariffs and duties. Britain withdrew from the European Union on 31 January, and an economic transition period ends on 31 December.

Johnson has always insisted that if there is no deal, the UK will “prosper” and that the UK will have to trade with the European Union from 1 January on the terms of the World Trade Organization.

But his government has acknowledged that a chaotic exit is likely to bring gridlock to UK ports, temporary shortages of some goods and price increases for staple foods. Tariffs will apply to many UK exports, including 10% on cars and over 40% on lamb, outpacing the UK economy as it struggles to regenerate from the effects of the coronovirus epidemic.

Over the past few days, Johnson and the European Union Commission Chairman, Ursula von der Leyen, have been drawn more and more into the conversation, speaking on the phone to unblock conversations that have been dragged on for months, by the epidemic and by two parties Interrupted. ‘Anti-Brexit views of what Brexit said.

Rumors of a pre-Christmas trade deal have surfaced in recent days based on progress on key outstanding issues: fair competition, future disputes and fishing resolutions.

The EU has long feared that Britain would reduce social, environmental and state aid regulations to be able to gain an unfair edge with its exports to the EU. Britain has said that meeting EU rules would violate its sovereignty.

Finally there was agreement on those “level playing field” issues, which were the final sticking point, except for the financially minor but highly symbolic issue of fish. Maritime EU nations are seeking to maintain access to UK waters, where they have long been frozen, but the UK is insisting that it should exercise control as an “independent coastal state”.

On fishing, a large gap between the two sides gradually narrowed, until it finally appeared.

Johnson’s large Conservative majority in Parliament should ensure that the Brexit trade agreement is passed, but any agreement will be criticized by the staunch Brexit supporters in his party. The party’s Eurokeptic European Research Group said it carefully scrutinized any deal to ensure that it “protects the sovereignty of the United Kingdom after it exits the transition period later this year” Will go. “

The European Parliament has warned that it is now too late to ratify the deal before 1 January, but an agreement may be reached tentatively by EU legislators in January.

Businesses on both sides are struggling for a deal that will save tens of billions in costs.

While both sides will suffer financially from failure to secure a trade deal, most economists think the UK will take more hits, as it is smaller and more reliable to do business with the European Union.


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