A negotiation that took 2 years over 2 Prime Ministers and just with 7 days before the Brexit transition period ends on Dec. 31, the European Union and the United Kingdom have finally announced the reaching of an agreement that will govern the EU-UK trade and security relationship starting from Jan. 1, 2021.
The European Parliament and EU member states hailed the last-minute deal with relief while some, with a sentiment tinged with caution, pledged to scrutinize the text before giving a green light. European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, at a press conference in Brussels, said the 27-member bloc has reached “a fair and balanced agreement” with Britain.
“It is fair, it is a balanced deal, and it is right and responsible thing to do for both sides,” she said. “To our friends in the UK, I want to say, parting is such sweet sorrow,” she added.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, in his virtual press conference at Downing Street, said his country has “taken back control” when securing the post-Brexit trade deal. He added that the agreement offers certainty for businesses across the whole country and will benefit the whole of Britain because “there will be no palisade of tariffs on Jan 1 (2021) and there will be no non-tariff barriers to trade.”
The deal however will need the approval of the European Parliament, the British Parliament and the EU’s 27 member states and is likely to impose a “provisional application” of the agreement until MEPs vote on it next year. Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel has hailed it an historical moment but did add that her government will examine the deal to decide whether Berlin supports the result.
French President Emmanuel Macron said the deal proved that “European unity and steadfastness have paid off” and “Europe is moving forward and can look to the future, united, sovereign and strong.”
“The deal with the UK is essential to protect our citizens, our fishermen, our producers. We will make sure this is the case,” he added in a Twitter message.
“Welcome to the beginning of the agreement between the EU and UK,” said Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez on Twitter. “The Member States will examine it and EU Council will comment in the coming days. Spain and the UK continue to dialogue to reach an agreement on Gibraltar.”