With only one week left before the end of the “Brexit” transition period, after several months of difficult games, the future relationship negotiations between the United Kingdom and the European Union with a trade agreement as the core finally settled on the 24th, clearing the way for the United Kingdom to end the “Brexit” transition period in 2020 as originally planned.
Why is the negotiation deadline extended again and again? What are the main contents of the final agreement? Looking forward to 2021, what changes will happen to the relationship between Britain and Europe?
Why did it drag it to the last minute?
The United Kingdom officially “Brexit” on January 31 this year, and then entered an 11-month transition period, during which the two sides expect to reach a trade agreement.
Otherwise, the trade between the two sides will return to the framework of the World Trade Organization from 2021, and the border inspection and tariff collection will be re-implemented.
Since September, the negotiations between the two sides have made progress, but there are still major differences on fisheries, fair competition and other issues.
Since then, the negotiations have neither broken nor broken through, and this situation has lasted almost until the last minute.
On Christmas Eve, the two sides negotiated overnight to finalize the 2000-page text of the agreement. According to British media reports, British Prime Minister Johnson and European Commission President von der Leyen directly intervened in the negotiations five times in 24 hours by phone.
The report quoted French sources as saying that the British side made huge concessions in EU fishing boats entering British waters to fish, clearing obstacles to a final agreement.
Johnson posted a photo on social media on the afternoon of the 24th. He showed his victory with thumbs up in his hands, with the caption “The agreement reached”.
“The UK is in control of its own laws and destiny, and the agreement is also good for Europe,” he said at the press conference.
At a press conference held in Brussels on the same day, von der Leyen said that the two sides had reached a fair and balanced agreement, which would ensure fair competition and protect the interests of the EU.
What are the main contents of the agreement?
This agreement sets the direction for the future development of Anglo-European relations.
In addition to the most important trade agreements, it also includes incidental fisheries, law enforcement, transportation, laws and data agreements.
Under the trade agreement, the two sides will continue to enjoy zero tariffs and zero quota trade 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 affected by the epidemic, this agreement is undoubtedly a good thing and brings certainty to many enterprises.
On the issue of fisheries, the EU will reduce the value of British waters by one quarter of its catch in five and a half years, which British media said is far less than the British original demand for the EU to reduce by 80%.
In terms of fair competition, if one party believes that the other party has done unfair competition, it can initiate independent third-party arbitration without fully complying with the EU judicial system, which is considered a victory for Britain.
At present, this agreement still needs the approval of both parliaments.
The British Parliament will meet next week to vote, and the Speaker of the European Parliament, Sussoli, said that the agreement will be considered next year.
Until then, EU countries need to approve the provisional implementation of the agreement from January 1 to the end of February next year.
From now on, Britain and Europe parted and two widths?
Some analysts said that the agreement reached to free Britain and Europe. From January 1 next year, Britain will officially engage in trade with the EU under the new trade agreement as a non-EU member state.
From then on, the relationship between Britain and Europe will turn a new page, and the political map of Europe will change new.
Tony Dank, director-general of the British Federation of Industry, said that the agreement “relieves great pressure” for the British and European economies.
At the same time, this means that Britain “can start a new chapter on a basis outside the European Union”.
In the short term, even with the escort of a new agreement, the smoothness of trade between Britain and Europe is still different from that of Britain when it remained in the single market and customs union.
How to adapt to the new trade relationship as soon as possible is a challenge that government agencies and trading enterprises on both sides will face.
The British government has announced the establishment of a border control center to monitor and analyze the entry of goods and people into the UK in real time through advanced technology in order to minimize possible border chaos.
The deal averts the result of a “no-deal Brexit” and gives “a sigh of relief to many tired, worried businesses,” but trade between the two sides still faces “huge, new non-tariff barriers,” said Adam Marshall, director-general of the British Chamber of Commerce.
According to the analysis of the Welsh Farmers Association, three-quarters of Welsh food and beverage exports are destined for the European Union, and the cost of non-tariff barriers is expected to rise by 4% to 8% next year.
In addition, analysts pointed out that because trade agreements often involve trade in goods, the financial services industry, one of the pillar industries of the United Kingdom, will still face a “no-deal Brexit”, and the degree of access of the financial services industry in EU member states will not be comparable to that of “Brexit”.
The British Government’s Office of Budget Responsibility predicts that the British economy will shrink by 4% in 15 years compared with staying in the EU in the event of an agreement.
At the same time, in the “post-Brexit” era, how Britain can ensure its political stability and international influence without traditional European allies, and how to realize the government’s original idea of “globalized Britain” under the rise of domestic populist forces, is still a proposition to be solved.