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Negotiators European Union and Britain worked through the night and into Christmas Eve to put the finishing touches on a trade deal that should avoid a chaotic economic breakdown between the two parties on New Year’s Day.
After resolving the rest of the fair competition issues and nearly all the fishing issues on Wednesday, negotiators reviewed hundreds of pages of legal text that should become the template for later publication.Brexi relationship.

As for much of the nine-month negotiations, the issue of EU fleets in British waters turned out to be the most intractable and divisive, with negotiators still haggling over quotas for some individual species at dawn.

File photo of European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen (right) welcoming British Prime Minister Boris Johnson before a meeting at the EU headquarters in Brussels on December 9, 2020.
File photo of European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen (right) welcoming British Prime Minister Boris Johnson before a meeting at the EU headquarters in Brussels on December 9, 2020. (Olivier Hoslet / AP)

Still, sources on both sides said the long and difficult negotiations were nearing completion as negotiators, hiding at EU headquarters in Brussels with a stack of pizzas, worked to deliver the text to their leaders on Thursday.

Everyone was looking forward to the morning appearances of Prime Minister Boris Johnson and the President of the EU Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, to announce the agreement.

The deal then goes to the 27 EU nations seeking unanimous approval, as well as the blessing of the British and EU parliaments.

Despite the breakthrough, key aspects of the future relationship between the 27-nation bloc and its former member remain uncertain.

But it leaves the relationship between the UK and the EU, mutually dependent, but often contentious, on a much stronger footing than a disruptive no-deal breakup.

Johnson will now claim to have kept the promise that earned him a resounding electoral victory a year ago: “Get Brexit Ready.”

Even with a deal, trade between Britain and the EU will face customs controls and some other barriers on January 1, when the UK leaves the single market and the bloc’s customs union. A trade agreement would avoid the imposition of tariffs and tariffs that could cost both parties billions in trade and hundreds of thousands of jobs.

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 tremendously” even if no deal is reached and the UK has to trade with the EU under the terms of the World Trade Organization from January 1.

Pro Brexit supporters celebrate the UK's exit from the European Union
Pro Brexit supporters celebrate the UK’s departure from the EU during the Brexit Day celebration party hosted by Leave Means Leave in Parliament Square on January 31, 2020 in London, England. (Jeff J Mitchell / Getty Images)

But his government has acknowledged that a chaotic exit is likely to lead to stagnation in British ports, temporary shortages of some goods and price increases for staple foods.

Tariffs will be applied to many UK exports, including 10 per cent on cars and more than 40 per cent on lamb, which will hit the UK economy as it struggles to recover from the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

In recent days, Johnson and von der Leyen have become increasingly involved in the talks, talking on the phone in an attempt to unblock negotiations that have dragged on for months, hampered by the coronavirus pandemic and by the two parties. . opposing views on what Brexit entails.

Rumors of a pre-Christmas trade deal have emerged in recent days based on progress on the main outstanding issues: fair competition, future dispute resolution and fishing.

The EU has long feared that Britain would undermine the bloc’s social, environmental and state aid rules in order to gain an unfair advantage with its exports to the EU.

Britain has said that having to comply with EU rules would undermine its sovereignty.

Ursula von der Leyen
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen arrives to deliver a statement at the EU headquarters in Brussels on December 13, 2020. (AP)

Eventually a compromise was reached on these “level playing field” issues, leaving the economically minor but highly symbolic fish issue to become the final stumbling block.

The EU maritime nations are seeking to retain access to UK waters where they have long fished, but Britain has been insisting that it must exercise control as an “independent coastal state”.

A large gap between the two sides of the catch gradually narrowed until it seemed, at last, bridgeable.

Johnson’s large conservative majority in Parliament should ensure that the Brexit trade deal passes, but any compromise will be criticized by hardliners in his party for Brexit.

The party’s Eurosceptic European Research Group said it would carefully scrutinize any deal “to make sure its provisions actually protect UK sovereignty after we exit the transition period at the end of this year.”

Border of france
Businesses have spent months worrying about disruptions at Britain’s borders as the UK makes an economic break with the European Union after Brexit at the end of the year. However, the chaos of Christmas week was caused by the coronavirus. (AP)

The European Parliament has warned that it is now too late to approve the deal before January 1, but EU lawmakers could tentatively establish a deal and approve it in January.

Businesses on both sides are clamoring for a deal that would save tens of billions in costs.

While both parties would suffer financially from failing to reach a trade deal, most economists believe the UK would be hit harder, because it is smaller and more reliant on trade with the EU than the other way around.


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