Saturday, 26 December 2020
The British Government and the European Commission on Saturday published the entire text of their historic agreement outlining the relationship between the EU and its former member after Brexit.
The two sides now have just a few days to adopt the text, announced on Thursday and due to take effect at midnight on 1 January.
The draft EU-UK accord is “the result of many months of intensive and dedicated work,” European Chief Negotiator Michel Barnier said in a message on Twitter.
Among other things, the accord provides for the introduction of customs duties and quotas in UK-EU trade and closes British waters to EU fishermen. Its massive text is 1,246 pages long, not counting explanatory notes and annexes on nuclear cooperation or exchanges of classified information.
Preparations for the adoption of the draft are expected to continue at breakneck speed in the coming days.
After a first meeting on Friday between Michel Barnier and ambassadors of the 27 EU member States, a new meeting is scheduled for Monday, also in Brussels, to launch the signing of the draft accord by the Members.
Member States will also need to decide on the provisional application of the accord since the European Parliament will only be able to ratify it in early 2021.
On the British side, members of parliament are due to return from holidays to start debating the draft on Wednesday. There is little doubt it will be passed since even the opposition Labour Party has promised to support it.
With this trade deal, the EU offers its former member State access to its huge market of 450 million consumers, without customs duties or quotas, but strict conditions apply. Businesses will need to respect a number of rules related to the environment, labour laws and taxation to avoid any form of dumping. There are also guarantees with regard to State support.
On fisheries, which remained a thorny issue up to the last minute, the agreement provides for a transition period until June 2026, by the end of which European fishers will have given up 25% of their catch.
The Brussels Times