The four-year “divorce drama” between the United Kingdom and the European Union is coming to an end.
After more than nine months of tug-of-war negotiations, the European Union and the United Kingdom finally “broken the situation” on December 24 and announced that they had reached a Brexit trade agreement, so that the United Kingdom had to avoid a “hard Brexit” on January 1 next year.
According to the BBC, this marks a new page in Britain’s relationship with the European Union.
The Guardian mentioned that Brexit is basically over, and the United Kingdom has avoided a “no-deal Brexit”, but whether it will achieve mutually satisfactory fair trade in the future is still unknown.
“Averted greater chaos”
On the afternoon of the 24th, European Commission President von der Leyen and British Prime Minister Johnson held press conferences at the European Union headquarters in Belgium and the Prime Minister’s Office in Downing Street, respectively, announcing that the agreement had been reached.
Johnson said at the press conference that Britain regained control of its own destiny and law, believing that the agreement would benefit Europe as a whole and bring new stability to British-European relations, especially for enterprises.
Von der Leyen said that the road to negotiation was long and tortuous, but the two sides finally reached a “fair and balanced” agreement.
According to the press release issued by the European Commission, the agreement covers a wide range of areas of cooperation such as trade, investment, competition, fisheries, transportation, energy, data protection, social security and so on.
According to the agreement, from 2021, the commodity trade of the two sides will continue to enjoy zero tariffs and zero quotas, which exceeds the previous trade agreements reached by the European Union with Canada and Japan and avoids large-scale increase in trade costs.
The BBC said that the EU and the United Kingdom reached a post-Brexit trade agreement at the last minute, ending months of disagreement over fishing rights and future commercial competition rules.
Experts say the biggest thing about a UK trade deal with the EU is to avoid the greater chaos that the absence of an agreement may cause during the coronavirus pandemic.
After the announcement of a Brexit trade agreement between Britain and Europe, German Chancellor Merkel also said that the agreement was “historic and would lay the foundation for a new chapter in the EU-UK relations”.
She said that even after leaving the EU, Britain will continue to be an important partner of Germany and the EU. French President Macron also welcomed the Brexit trade agreement, “the Brexit trade agreement can protect French nationals and fishermen.”
The Brexit negotiations have twists and turns
The Brexit agreement was reached, ending the four-year-old Brexit drama.
“All the promises the British public received in the 2016 Brexit referendum were fulfilled through this agreement,” Downing Street statement said.” We have taken back control over monetary, border, legal, trade and fishing waters.”
Accelerating the Brexit process is one of Boris Johnson’s promises as British Prime Minister.
On January 31, 2020, the United Kingdom officially left the European Union, and then entered an 11-month transition period.
Since the first round of meetings held in Brussels in early March, the coronavirus epidemic has hit, and Britain and Europe have had to suspend negotiations.
During the resumption of negotiations, EU representative Michelle Barnier and British representative David Frost were diagnosed with COVID-19. British Prime Minister Johnson was also diagnosed with COVID-19 on March 27, adding variables to the time-suffer negotiations.
On April 20, the two sides resumed a new round of negotiations. During this period, the contradictions between Britain and Europe gradually increased.
The deadline for reaching an agreement scheduled for mid-October has been extended again and again.
At the end of November, Barnier, the EU’s chief negotiator for Brexit, led a team to London again to start a new round of intensive negotiations with the British side.
After December, Britain and the European Union played extreme pressure on each other.” Brexit without agreement” has become each other’s killers.
On December 4, Barnier and Frost, the chief negotiator of the British side, issued a joint statement on social media, saying that due to major differences in the fields of fair competition environment, compliance management and fisheries, the conditions for an agreement have not yet been reached, and the two sides agreed to suspend the negotiations.
At a time when there was speculation that Britain’s “no-deal Brexit” would be a foregone conclusion, on December 24, the two sides announced that they had reached a trade agreement.
After a week of transition, the United Kingdom will withdraw from the EU Single Market and Customs Union and implement an independent trade policy.
According to the BBC, British Prime Minister Johnson said that “we have regained our autonomy”; EU President von der Leyen was “relieved” while also “relieved” that the EU lost its long-time member Britain.
“Huge concessions” may bury hidden dangers
According to British Reuters, the conclusion of the trade agreement avoided the Brexit process from falling into a fierce and triggering economic turmoil on New Year’s Eve.
However, due to the different interests of EU members, it is expected that the Brexit trade agreement will take some time to be approved.
“We believe that the good news is that the destructive and sword-shattering ‘no-deal’ Brexit has been avoided.
The bad news for the UK is that the deal enables the EU to retain almost all the advantages it generates from its trade relations with the UK, while enabling it to use regulatory instruments.” Malcolm Barr, an analyst at JPMorgan Chase, wrote in a study.
According to the introduction, this agreement makes arrangements for Britain-Europe trade in goods and services, the distribution of fishing rights in British sea areas, and cooperation between the two sides in transportation, energy, justice and other fields.
At a press conference on the afternoon of the 24th, Johnson also specifically mentioned regaining control of the fishing industry.
Fisheries have always been the main crux of the deadlock in the Brexit negotiations.
According to the EU Common Fisheries Policy, more than 60% of fishing quotas in British waters belong to continental European countries.
Britain demands a complete recovery of territorial sea sovereignty after the end of the Brexit transition period, while the EU hopes to maximize the fishing rights of EU member states’ fishing rights in British waters.
However, EU sources pointed out that the United Kingdom made “great concessions” at the last minute of the negotiations, mainly in the field of fishing: EU fishermen will continue to enter British waters for five and a half years from 2021, but the quota will be gradually reduced by 25%.
The previous offer of the United Kingdom was to reduce it by 60% within three years.
Scotland’s Chief Minister Nicola Sturgeon called the result a “bad agreement” and “the British government has broken its important commitments in fisheries”.
Peter Guildford, a former EU spokesman for trade affairs, also said that “the issue of fishing rights is not mainly an economic issue, but a very sensitive political issue.” Fishing accounts for only 0.03% of Britain’s GDP, which is simply worth mentioning compared with the proportion of the automobile industry.
However, in the minds of the people who support Brexit, the right to fish means the return of national sovereignty.
British media said that will the “sequelae” of Johnson’s final concessions in the negotiations trigger a new round of political turmoil? There is still time to give an answer to all this.