December 24th, EU and British negotiators agreed on the details of the future relationship agreement between Britain and Europe, including trade, clearing the way for the United Kingdom to end the “Brexit” transition period in 2020 as originally planned. At this point, the four-year “Brexit” process has come to an end.
According to the agreement, from 2021, the commodity trade between the two sides will continue to enjoy zero tariffs and zero quota treatment, which exceeds the previous trade agreements reached by the European Union with Canada and Japan and avoids large-scale increase in trade costs. For the British and European economies hit by the epidemic, this is undoubtedly good news.
On the issue of fisheries, EU fishermen need to reduce the output value of fishing in British waters by a quarter within five and a half years. British media said that this was lower than the initial request of the British side to reduce it by 80%, believing that the UK had made a big concession. On the fair competition side, economic disputes can be resorted to third-party arbitration without fully complying with the EU judicial system, which is considered a victory for Britain.
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.
Can the success of “breakup” really be a hundred? In the short term, even with the escort of a new agreement, the smoothness of trade between Britain and Europe is still not the same as that of Britain’s stay in the EU single market.
On the one hand, how to adapt to the new trade relationship as soon as possible and avoid chaos caused by insufficient preparation is a challenge that government agencies and trading enterprises on both sides will face.
On the other hand, it is particularly important for the United Kingdom and many other European countries in the current epidemic situation to ensure the smooth entry and exit of food, medicine and other materials.
Economically, the British Budget Accountability Office had previously expected that “Brexit” would face a 4% GDP loss over the next 15 years compared with staying in the EU, even if an agreement is reached with the EU.
Politically, “Brexit” may aggravate the Scottish regional independence tendency to some extent. Sturgeon, the chief minister of the Scottish Government and leader of the Scottish National Party, said after reaching an agreement between Britain and Europe: “Brexit is against the will of the Scots. There is no agreement to compensate for the losses brought by Brexit.
Now is the time for us to plan for the future as an independent European country.”
In addition, in the “post-Brexit” era, how Britain can ensure its political stability, economic prosperity and international influence without its traditional European allies, and how to realize the government’s original vision of “globalized Britain” under the rise of domestic populist forces remain unsolved.
“What we call the beginning is often the end, and declaring the end is the beginning.” Von der Leyen quoted the famous words of the British poet Elliot at a press conference on the 24th to express the complex mood about the conclusion of the negotiations.
Everything in the past is a preface. The “Black Swan” that “Brexit” was launched a few years ago has finally landed. History cannot give the answer immediately whether this is a huge turning point in the British development process or a phased adjustment.
The end of the Anglo-European negotiations may be the beginning of a new stage in the twists and turns of the “Brexit” story, and the future must be faced by all parties concerned.
Since the 2016 referendum decided to “Brexit”, the UK and the EU have held several rounds of negotiations on a “Brexit” agreement. After nearly four years of procrastination and the “overing” of the two British Prime Ministers, the two sides finally completed the “divorce” procedure in January 2020, entered an 11-month transition period, and launched future relationship negotiations with trade agreements as the core.
Since September, negotiations have made progress, but due to major differences on fisheries, fair competition and other issues, the deadline for reaching an agreement scheduled for mid-October has been repeatedly delayed.
On December 24, after the two sides finally reached an agreement, von der Leyen said: “Europe can henceforth leave the issue of Brexit behind and start looking forward to the future.”