Today ambassadors from across Europe pored over the details of the UK-EU trade agreement.
Diplomats from the 27 EU member state were today given a briefing by the trade bloc’s chief negotiator Michele Barnier – who was seen carrying a weighty 2,000 page binder into the meeting.
The deal will be debated by MPs on Wednesday. It is likely to pass through the Commons, with Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer saying his party would back the deal, instead of risking a No Deal Brexit.
It will officially be voted on by MEPs in Brussels after the turn of the year.
Here’s a breakdown of the summary, first published on the Prime Minister’s Office website. You can see the summary in full here or below.
The Main Issues
Trade and Cooperation
Free trade: From the start of the negotiations, Britain had touted its desire for a ‘Canada-style’ free trade deal with the EU. In reality, both sides wanted to go even further. Canada’s deal, named the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (Ceta), still involves tariffs on imports and quotas.
But the summary boasts that the EU has gone one step further, and the UK has in fact agreed a quota free deal. It says: ‘The United Kingdom and the European Union have agreed to unprecedented 100% tariff liberalisation. This means there will be no tariffs or quotas on the movement of goods we produce between the UK and the EU. This is the first time the EU has agreed a zero tariff zero quota deal with any other trading partner.’
The summary of the deal was published by Number 10 at 4.30pm on Christmas Eve, hours before the Prime Minister (pictured left) issued his ‘Brexmas’ message. Today ambassadors from across Europe today pored over the details of the UK-EU trade agreement. Diplomats from the 27 EU member state were given a briefing by the trade bloc’s chief negotiator Michele Barnier (pictured right)
Only ‘originating’ goods – those produced within the agreement area – are able to benefit from the liberalised market access arrangements.
They’ll be specific rules on specialised products, including wine, motor vehicles and medicine.
Borders: The UK and EU have agreed to work together to address administrative barriers to cross-border trade. These include provisions to support the efficiency of documentary clearance, transparency, advance rulings and non-discrimination.
It also includes a ‘bespoke’ agreement to the UK-EU trading relationship, such as cooperation at ‘roll-on roll-off’ ports like Dover and Holyhead and also on exploring the possibility of sharing import and export declaration data.
Services and investment: The UK’s service industry is a major part of the UK’s economy. In fact the service industry, including the retail sector, the financial sector, the public sector, business administration, leisure and cultural activities, accounted for 80% of total UK economic output in 2019. According to the summary, the Brexit deal includes well-established provisions on cross-border trade in services and investment.
Market Access, National Treatment, to provide for non-discriminatory treatment between UK and EU service suppliers and investors, and Local Presence, to ensure that cross-border trade is not inhibited by establishment requirements, are all included in the deal.
Digital Trade: According to the summary, the two sides have agreed the ‘most liberalising and modern digital trade provisions. It also ensures that the UK and the EU will cooperate on digital trade issues in future, including emerging technologies.
One of the major arguments of the Brexit negotiations and a big red line for Britain. The summary boasts that the UK is ‘now free to create its own laws and fisheries management practices’.
Fishing (pictured: A Dutch trawler in the North Sea) was one of the major arguments of the Brexit negotiations and a big red line for Britain. The summary boasts that the UK is ‘now free to create its own laws and fisheries management practices’
Quotas: According to the summary, the Agreement ‘provides for a significant uplift’ in quota for UK fishers, equal to 25 per cent of the value the EU catch in UK waters.
This is said to be worth £146million for the UK fleet phased in over five years. The deal, it says, will increase the share of the total catch taken in UK waters taken by UK vessels to circa two thirds.
Data sharing and punishments: Under the deal, a Specialised Committee on Fisheries will be formed. It will provide a forum for the UK and the EU to discuss and cooperate on a range of fisheries matters. The agreement includes arrangements for compensation if a Party decides not to grant access to its waters and dispute settlement, in the event that a Party breaches the obligations. The Agreement can be terminated at any point with nine months notice – and the deal will continue until the end of the year.
Level Playing Field
Another key area of the Brexit negotiations – this time the big red line for the EU. The European Union wanted assurances from the UK that it would not attempt to undercut EU companies by giving unfair state subsidies to UK ones. They were also concerned that UK companies could be given an advantage if the UK cuts regulations involving workers’ rights, environmental protection and taxation.
The UK was also reluctant to continue to allow disputes to be taken to the European Court of Justice.
According to the summary, the EU was ‘forced to drop its ambitious demands for dynamic alignment and for the UK to be legally required to maintain equivalent legislative systems to the EU’s in some areas’.
It adds: ‘The system that has been agreed upon does not compromise the UK’s sovereignty in any area, does not involve the European Court of Justice in any way.
‘The Agreement commits both Parties to maintain their high standards of competition law, including enforcing these laws, maintaining their independent competition authorities, and applying competition law on a procedurally fair, transparent and non-discriminatory basis.’
European Court of Justice
Another key issue for many Brexit voters. According to the summary, the Agreement is based on international law, not EU law.
There is no role for the European Court of Justice and no requirements for the UK to continue following EU law under the new agreement.
There is no role for the European Court of Justice and no requirements for the UK to continue following EU law under the new agreement
In the foreword of the document, written by Boris Johnson, it adds: ‘The only laws we will have to obey are the ones made by the Parliament we elect.’
Instead of the European Court of Justice a new body, called the Joint Partnership Council, is expected to ensure the deal is properly applied, as well as mediate in any clashes between the two sides.
Other key issues
Transport: UK-EU airlines and visa-versa will be allowed to continue operating services between the two areas. There will be operational flexibilities for UK and EU airlines. There is also large-scale agreement over aviation safety measures, including when aircraft cannot fly.
On the roads, haulage operators will continue to be able to move goods to, from and through each other’s territories with no permit requirements, and make additional movements within each other’s territories, with limits on the number of permitted movements.
On the roads, haulage operators will continue to be able to move goods to, from and through each other’s territories with no permit requirements. Pictured: Lorries queued at the Port of Dover
There will be additional rights for the operation of passenger transport, above and beyond world trade agreements. Services on the island of Ireland will also be able to pick up and set down passengers in both Ireland and Northern Ireland, enabling cross-border services to continue with no restrictions.
Travel Visas: The Agreement confirms that the UK will treat the EU as a bloc for short-term visit visas. This provision will not apply to future Member States unless the UK agrees to do so. The UK will be allowed to determine whether short-term visits from the EU should be subject to visa requirements.
Security: The UK and EU has agreed to work closely together on the issues of policing and security according to the summary. There will be exchange of national DNA, fingerprint and vehicle registration between the UK and individual member states ‘to aid law enforcement agencies in investigating crime and terrorism’.
Though the UK will no longer be a part of Europol, the UK will commit to effective multilateral cooperation between the UK and EU Member States through Europol on serious and organised crime and terrorism.
Though the UK will no longer be a part of Europol, the UK will commit to effective multilateral cooperation between the UK and EU Member States through Europol on serious and organised crime and terrorism
The UK and EU have committed to work closely together and share information on health security – such as pandemics – as well as on cyber security.
Energy: According to the summary, the deal will ‘strengthen the UK and the EU’s respective energy and climate ambitions’. This includes the way in which the parties trade electricity and gas over interconnectors, work together on security of supply, integrate renewables into our respective markets and cooperate to develop opportunities in the North Sea.
Read in full: Government summary of Christmas Eve’s historic Brexit agreement with the EU
Boris Johnson last night heralded the UK’s free trade deal with the EU as a ‘small present’ to the British public this Christmas.
A 34 page summary was published by Number 10 at 4.30pm on Christmas Eve, hours before the Prime Minister issued his ‘Brexmas’ message.
The PM has lined up a crucial moment next Wednesday when he will try to push the legislation underpinning the historic agreement through all its Parliamentary stages.
He was last night given a double boost with a tentative welcome from Euro-sceptics and a call from Sir Keir Starmer for his Labour MPs to back it.
Ahead of next Wednesday’s debate, here, in full, is the Government’s UK-EU Trade and Cooperation Agreement Summary, first published on the website of the Prime Minister’s Office.