Came first Brixi Trade agreement. Now comes the routine and the institutional details.
Four days after the conclusion of the free trade agreement with European UnionThe British government has warned businesses not to prepare for unrest and “rough moments” when the new rules come into effect on Thursday evening.
Companies were scrambling on Monday to absorb the details and implications of the 1,240-page deal sealed by the European Union and the United Kingdom on Christmas Eve.
Meanwhile, European Union ambassadors gave their unanimous approval on Monday to the trade agreement with the United Kingdom, Germany, which holds the EU presidency, and said the decision came during a meeting to assess the deal on Christmas Eve.
“The green light,” said German spokesman Sebastian Fischer.
The approval was expected since all the European Union leaders warmly welcomed it. It still needs approval from the European Union legislature, which is expected in February. It is expected to be approved by the British House of Commons on Wednesday.
The United Kingdom left the European Union nearly a year ago, but remained in the bloc’s economic embrace during a transition period ending at midnight Brussels time – 11pm in London – on December 31.
The deal, reached after nine months of tense negotiations, will ensure Britain and the 27-nation bloc continue to trade in goods without tariffs or quotas. That should help protect $ 894 billion in annual trade between the two sides, and the hundreds of thousands of jobs that depend on it.
But the end of Britain’s membership in the vast EU single market and customs union will still bring new hassles and expenditures to both individuals and businesses – from the need for tourists to travel insurance to the millions of new customs declarations that companies have to fill out.
“Companies will need to make sure they are ready for new customs procedures and we as individuals will need to make sure our passports are up to date because they need at least six months before they expire in order for us to do so,” said Michael Gove, the British government minister responsible for Brexit preparations for “travel abroad”.
“I am sure there will be bumpy moments, but we are there to try to do everything we can to smooth the road,” he told the BBC.
The Conservative government headed by British Prime Minister Boris Johnson is arguing that any short-term disruption due to Brexit will be worth it because the UK will now be free to set its own rules and do new trade deals around the world.
However, an ominous preview of what would happen if trade between the United Kingdom and the European Union faced severe restrictions came this month when France briefly closed its borders with Britain due to a new type of rapidly spreading coronavirus sweeping London and southern England. Thousands of trucks have been stuck in traffic or parked at an abandoned airport near the English port of Dover for several days and supermarkets have warned that some goods, including fresh produce, will soon run out.
Even after France bowed in and agreed to let truck drivers who tested positive for the virus enter them, the backlog of 15,000 drivers who now need testing took days to clear them.
Hardline pro-Brexit lawmakers in Johnson’s Conservative Party are looking for the deal to see if it meets their goal of a decisive break with the bloc. The main opposition Labor party says the deal will hurt the UK economy but will support it anyway because it is better than an anarchic split without a deal on January 1.
Despite the deal, uncertainty hangs over large parts of the relationship between Britain and the European Union. The deal covers trade in goods, but leaves the UK’s huge financial services sector in limbo, and it remains uncertain how easy it will be to deal with the bloc after January 1. The British territory of Gibraltar, which sees thousands of workers crossing every day from Spain, is also in limbo Because it was not included in the deal.
The Brexit deal angered one sector the government has assured it will protect: fishing. The issue of economically small but highly symbolic fishing rights has been a sticking point in the negotiations, as the EU’s maritime nations seek to retain access to UK waters, and Britain insists they must control their seas.
Under the deal, the European Union would give up a quarter of the quota it caught in UK waters, far less than the 80% Britain initially claimed. The system will be implemented in phases over a period of 5 and a half years, after which the shares will be re-evaluated.
“I am angry, disappointed and betrayed,” said Andrew Locker, president of the British National Federation of Hunters’ Organizations. “Boris Johnson promised us the right to all fish that swim in our exclusive economic zone, and we got a fraction of that.”