UK and EU on the verge of finally concluding Brexit trade deal – Times of India

BRUSSELS: European Union negotiators and Brittany worked all night and Christmas Eve to put the finishing touches on a commercial agreement this should prevent a chaotic economic split between the two sides next week.
Trade will change no matter what on January 1, when the UK leaves the EU’s single market and customs union. But both sides have worked hard to avoid a nightmare scenario, in which the imposition of tariffs and duties would cost billions of dollars in trade and hundreds of thousands of jobs and potentially ports so difficult that many goods would be difficult to pass. This possibility was clearly illustrated this week when a brief French blockade of British trucks due to coronavirus created chaos in ports which is still being resolved.
After resolving almost all remaining sticking points, negotiators on Thursday went through hundreds of pages of legal text that are expected to become the model for a post-Brexit relationship.
As during much of the nine-month negotiations, the issue of EU fishing fleets in UK waters has proven to be the most intractable and divisive, with negotiators still grappling with quotas for certain species individual at dawn.
Still, sources on both sides said the long and difficult negotiations were about to end as negotiators, locked in the EU headquarters in Brussels with a stack of pizzas, worked to deliver the text to their leaders. Thursday.
Irish Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon coveney said there seemed to be “ some kind of last minute problem ” for the fish, but it wasn’t surprising. He said he expected announcements of a deal from London and Brussels ‘later today’.
The deal would then go to the 27 EU countries wishing unanimous approval, as well as the blessing of the European and British parliaments. It is expected to obtain these approvals.
The British currency, the pound, rose on expectations of a deal, up 0.5% against the dollar to just under $ 1.36.
It has been four and a half years since the British voted 52% -48% to leave the EU in order – according to the Brexiteers campaign slogan – to ‘take back control’ of UK borders and laws .
It took more than three years of wrangling before Britain left the bloc’s political structures on January 31. Negotiating how to disentangle closely interwoven economies within the framework of the EU’s single market for goods and services has taken even longer.
Despite the apparent breakthrough, key aspects of the future relationship between the 27-nation bloc and its former member remain unclear. But that leaves the mutually dependent and often broken relationship between the UK and the EU – and its 675 billion pounds ($ 918 billion) in annual trade – on much more solid footing than a disruptive no-deal breakup. .
If a deal is announced, the British Prime Minister Boris Johnson can claim to have kept the promise that earned him a resounding election victory a year ago: “ Get Brexit Done ”.
Even with a deal, trade between Britain and the EU will face customs checks and other barriers on January 1. But an agreement would avoid the more disastrous effects of tariffs and duties. Britain withdrew from the EU on January 31 and an economic transition period expires on December 31.
Johnson has always insisted that the UK will ‘prosper mightily’ even if no deal is reached and the UK must trade with the EU on World Trade Organization terms from the January 1st.
But his government has recognized that a chaotic exit is likely to lead to a stalemate in UK ports, temporary shortages of some commodities and price hikes for staple foods. Tariffs will be applied to many UK exports, including 10% on cars and over 40% on lamb, hitting the UK economy as it struggles to recover from the impact of the coronavirus pandemic .
In recent days, Johnson and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen have been increasingly drawn to the talks, speaking by phone in an attempt to unblock negotiations that have dragged on for months, hampered by the pandemic and by both parties. opposing views on what Brexit entails.
Rumors of a pre-Christmas trade deal have surfaced in recent days based on progress on key outstanding issues: fair competition, resolution of future disputes and fishing.
The EU has long been concerned that Britain will undermine the bloc’s social, environmental and state aid rules so that it can gain an unfair advantage with its exports to the EU. Britain has said the obligation to obey EU rules would undermine its sovereignty.
A compromise was eventually reached on these “ level playing field ” issues, leaving the economically minor but hugely symbolic fish issue as the last sticking point. EU maritime countries seek to retain access to British waters where they have long fished, but Britain has insisted it must exercise control as an ‘independent coastal state’ .
A huge gap between the two sides of the fishery gradually narrowed until it finally seemed bridgeable.
Johnson’s large Tory majority in Parliament is expected to ensure the Brexit trade deal passes, but any compromise will be criticized by hardline Brexit supporters in his party. The party’s Eurosceptic European research group said it would carefully review any agreement “ to ensure that its provisions actually protect the sovereignty of The United Kingdom after leaving the transition period at the end of this year. ”
The European Parliament has warned that it is now too late to approve the deal before January 1, but a deal could be provisionally put in place and approved by EU lawmakers in January.
Businesses on both sides are clamoring for a deal that would save tens of billions of dollars in costs.
While both sides would suffer economically from a failure to secure a trade deal, most economists believe Britain would suffer a bigger blow, as it is smaller and more dependent on trade with the EU than it does. ‘reverse.

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