The European Commission has finally agreed on a formal Brexit deal with the United Kingdom to leave the European Union after 11 months of intense negotiations.

The agreement with the United Kingdom was signed on December 24 formalizing the terms of Britain’s future cooperation with the European Union.

In a statement, President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen said:

“It was worth fighting for this deal because we now have a fair and balanced agreement with the UK, which will protect our European interests, ensure fair competition, and provide much-needed predictability for our fishing communities. Finally, we can leave Brexit behind us and look to the future. Europe is now moving on.”

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson said:

“And so I say again, directly to our EU friends and partners, I think this deal means a new stability and a new certainty in what has sometimes been a fractious and difficult relationship.”

He also said the agreement reached with the EU was “a good deal for the whole of Europe”,

Johnson has announced that a long-awaited Brexit deal between the United Kingdom and the European Union has been reached, just days ahead of the end of the transition period on December 31, 2020.

The UK Prime Minister said the country will have full control of its waters for the first time since entering the Union in 1973.

He said Britain “will be an independent coastal state with full control of our waters”, before adding the UK’s share of fish in its waters rising “substantially from roughly half today to closer to two-thirds in five-and-a-half years’ time”.

The deal comes as good news to both sides as it spells an end to the four-year-long negotiation process which has proved very difficult at times.

Michel Barnier, the European Commission’s top negotiator said they have finally come to an end of a four-year period of intensive negotiation after the landmark Brexit decision in 2016.

“We have now come to the end of a very intensive four-year period, particularly over the past nine months, during which we negotiated the UK’s orderly withdrawal from the EU and a brand new partnership, which we have finally agreed today. The protection of our interests has been front and centre throughout these negotiations and I am pleased that we have managed to do so. It is now for the European Parliament and the Council to have their say on this agreement,” Barnier said.

What was agreed upon by the EU and UK?

The draft Trade and Cooperation Agreement consists of three main pillars that include a Free Trade Agreement, a partnership for EU citizens’ security, and a horizontal Governance agreement as part of the post-Brexit deal.

A new economic and social partnership with the United Kingdom has been reached covering not just trade in goods and services, but also a broad range of other areas in the EU’s interest, such as investment, competition, state aid, tax transparency, air and road transport, energy and sustainability, fisheries, data protection, and social security coordination.

It also provides for zero tariffs and zero quotas on all goods that comply with the appropriate rules of origin.

Both parties have committed to ensuring a robust level playing field by maintaining high levels of protection in areas such as environmental protection, the fight against climate change and carbon pricing, social and labor rights, tax transparency and State aid, with effective, domestic enforcement, a binding dispute settlement mechanism and the possibility for both parties to take remedial measures.

The Brexit deal also contained agreements by the EU and UK on a new framework for the joint management of fish stocks in EU and UK waters. The UK will be able to further develop British fishing activities, while the activities and livelihoods of European fishing communities will be safeguarded, and natural resources preserved.

On transport, the agreement provides for continued and sustainable air, road, rail, and maritime connectivity, though market access falls below what the Single Market offers. It includes provisions to ensure that competition between EU and UK operators takes place on a level playing field, so that passenger rights, workers’ rights, and transport safety are not undermined.

On energy, the agreement provides a new model for trading and interconnectivity, with guarantees for open and fair competition, including on safety standards for offshore, and production of renewable energy.

On social security coordination, the agreement aims at ensuring a number of rights of EU citizens and UK nationals. This concerns EU citizens working in, traveling, or moving to the UK and to UK nationals working in, traveling, or moving to the EU after 1st January 2021.

Finally, the agreement enables the UK’s continued participation in a number of flagship EU programs for the period 2021-2027 (subject to a financial contribution by the UK to the EU budget), such as Horizon Europe.

The Brexit deal also highlights a new partnership for EU citizens’ security. Through a Trade and Cooperation Agreement establishes a new framework for law enforcement and judicial cooperation in criminal and civil law matters.

The agreement recognizes the need for strong cooperation between national police and judicial authorities, in particular for fighting and prosecuting cross-border crime and terrorism. It builds new operational capabilities, taking account of the fact that the UK, as a non-EU member outside of the Schengen area, will not have the same facilities as before. T

The security cooperation can be suspended in case of violations by the UK of its commitment for continued adherence to the European Convention of Human Rights and its domestic enforcement.

Another achievement for the deal is the horizontal agreement on governance The framework will give maximum legal certainty to businesses, consumers, and citizens, a dedicated chapter on governance provides clarity on how the agreement will be operated and controlled.

It also establishes a Joint Partnership Council, who will make sure the Agreement, is properly applied and interpreted, and in which all arising issues will be discussed.

Binding enforcement and dispute settlement mechanisms will ensure that the rights of businesses, consumers, and individuals are respected. This means that businesses in the EU and the UK compete on a level playing field and will avoid either party using its regulatory autonomy to grant unfair subsidies or distort competition.

Both parties can engage in cross-sector retaliation in case of violations of the agreement. This cross-sector retaliation applies to all areas of the economic partnership.

Foreign policy, external security and defence cooperation is not covered by the Agreement as the UK did not want to negotiate this matter.

What happens by January 1st after the Brexit deal?

By January 1, there will be no framework in place between the UK and the EU to develop and coordinate joint responses to foreign policy challenges, for instance, the imposition of sanctions on third-country nationals or economies.

The Trade and Cooperation Agreement also covers a number of areas that are in the EU’s interest. It goes well beyond traditional free trade agreements and provides a solid basis for preserving our longstanding friendship and cooperation. It safeguards the integrity of the Single Market and the indivisibility of the Four Freedoms (people, goods, services and capital).

It also reflects the fact that the UK is leaving the EU’s ecosystem of common rules, supervision and enforcement mechanisms, and can therefore no longer enjoy the benefits of EU membership or the Single Market.  Nevertheless, the Agreement will by no means match the significant advantages that the UK enjoyed as a Member State of the EU.

Even with the new EU-UK Trade and Cooperation Agreement in place, there will be big changes next year.

On January 1, 2021,  the UK will leave the EU Single Market and Customs Union, as well as all EU policies and international agreements. The free movement of persons, goods, services and capital between the UK and the EU will end.

The EU and the UK will also form two separate markets; two distinct regulatory and legal spaces. This will create barriers to trade in goods and services and to cross-border mobility and exchanges that do not exist today – in both directions.

As the Withdrawal Agreement remains in place, protecting amongst other things the rights of EU citizens and UK nationals, the EU’s financial interests, and crucially, peace and stability on the island of Ireland is paramount. The full and timely implementation of this agreement has been a key priority for the European Union.

Thanks to intensive discussions between the EU and the UK in the Joint Committee and the various Specialised Committees, the Withdrawal Agreement – and the Protocol on Ireland and Northern Ireland, in particular – will be implemented on the first day of 2021.

On 17 December, the EU-UK Joint Committee met to endorse all formal decisions and other practical solutions related to the implementation of the Withdrawal Agreement.

As part of these mutually agreed solutions, the UK has agreed to withdraw the contentious clauses of the UK Internal Market Bill, and will not introduce any similar provisions in the Taxation Bill.

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JM Agreda is a freelance journalist for more than 12 years writing for numerous international publications, research journals, and news websites. He mainly covers business, tech, transportation, and political news for Businessner.