First Business News Portal in English from Nepal
KATHMANDU: The UK and EU sealed a historic trade deal today, setting out the terms of their relationship for years to come.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson held his arms aloft in victory in a photo he tweeted with the words “The deal is done” after clinching a free-trade deal with the European Union on Thursday at the 11th hour.
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said: “We have finally found an agreement. It was a long and winding road, but we have got a good deal to show for it.
“It is fair, it is a balanced deal, and it is the right and responsible thing to do for both sides. Parting is such sweet sorrow.”
Mr Johnson had been in close contact with Ms von der Leyen in recent days as efforts intensified to get a deal over the line.
After 10 months of talks, negotiations had been deadlocked. The final hurdle was understood to be over fishing rights for European boats inside British waters.
Those discussions about the legal text – around 500 pages – continued through the night as negotiators haggled over the final details.
But even the final hours were not without drama. Despite briefings that an announcement was due early Thursday, more wrangling over fish quotas caused a last-minute hitch, pushing back the announcement by several hours.
The key points
The deal has elements which can be heralded as a victory for either side, with Britain regaining sovereignty over its laws and the EU still able to keep its regulations in place.
The key point that Mr Johnson can now make to the 52 per cent of British people who voted for Brexit is that the country has “taken back control” of its borders, laws, money and trade.
At the same time Britain has secured unprecedented access to European markets that will allow it to continue free trade with bloc.
A crucial element is that Britain will no longer be subject to EU law and the European Court of Justice. The deal has given British companies access to European markets on a “zero-tariff, zero-quota”, with no role for the ECJ in policing the accord.
The final sticking point in the deal came over fishing rights for the large European trawler fleet that makes significant catches off Britain. That was finally resolved with the EU’s quota of fish in British waters reduced by 25 per cent over the next five years, with annual renegotiations. Crucially to Brexiteers, Britain will now regain ‘sovereignty’ of its coastal waters. However, the quota of a 25 per cent cut is a substantial climbdown from the 80 per cent Britain had originally demanded and the 35 per cent offer London made a few days ago.
But Britain appears to have achieved a victory on one aspect of fishing after Brussels backed down on “cross-retaliation” tariffs to the UK economy should London decide to change quotas after the five years has elapsed. This so-called “punishment clause” has now been dropped.
A new chapter
Ms von der Leyen told a news conference: “It’s time to turn the page and look to the future. We are long standing allies. We share the same values and interests.”
At his press conference in Downing Street, Mr Johnson described the agreement as “a good deal for the whole of Europe”. He claimed the UK could now do “even more trade” with the EU and would drive jobs and prosperity across the whole continent.
“We have taken back control of our laws and our own destiny,” he said.
On the contentious issue of fishing rights, he said the UK would now have “prodigious quantities”, while suggesting subsidies could be on the horizon.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel said she was “confident” the Brexit deal is a “good outcome”.
Irish premier Micheal Martin – whose EU member state would have been hard hit by a no-deal – said the accord was “very welcome”.
“While we will miss the UK from the European Union, the fact that a deal is now in place means we can focus on how we manage good relationship in the years ahead,” he said on Twitter.
French President Emmanuel Macron responded to the Brexit deal, saying the united and firm position taken by Europe had paid off.
“The agreement with the United Kingdom is essential to protect our citizens, our fishermen, our producers. We will make sure that this is the case,” Macron said on Twitter.
“Europe is advancing and can look towards the future, in a united and sovereign manner, and with strength,” added Macron.
The National News
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