After a year in the making, the historic agreement between Britain and the EU was signed by Boris Johnson and Ursula von der Leyen at 2.30pm on Thursday.
Five hundred pages long – and not yet published – it sets out the future relationship between the UK and the continent.
Policy Editor DANIEL MARTIN looks at the deal and key provisions:
After a year in the making, the historic agreement between Britain and the EU was signed by Boris Johnson and Ursula von der Leyen at 2.30pm on Thursday
- First zero-tariff, zero-quota trade deal in EU history
- There will be no tariffs on the movement of goods between the UK and the EU, and no limit on the quantity of any types of goods that can be traded
- Agreement covers cross-border trade worth more than £600 billion a year
- But a slew of non-tariff barriers will come into force, including extra customs checks and forms
- And there could be tariffs in future if there are disputes over state aid or standards
- Britain can sign free trade deals with other countries, because it has left the single market
VERDICT: A UK win. Britain is given highly advantageous access to the single market for a country which is outside it – avoiding the threat of 10 per cent tariffs which would have come in under No Deal. Mr Johnson likened it to the ‘Canada-plus-plus’ arrangement he had been striving for.
CUSTOMS AND RED TAPE
- New regulatory burdens will make it more costly to do business in the EU, such as new ‘rules of origin’ regulations which mean UK firms must self-certify the origin of exports to the EU
- But both sides agree to limit customs red tape, including new ‘trusted trader’ rules to speed things up at the border
- Extra cooperation at ‘roll-on roll-off’ ports such as Dover and Holyhead to minimise disruption
- Specific agreements to make trade in wine, pharmaceuticals, cars and chemicals easier
VERDICT: A narrow win for the EU. Britain had argued for trade to be as ‘frictionless’ as possible, but this deal means there will be some significant non-tariff barriers
TRADE: A UK win. Britain is given highly advantageous access to the single market for a country which is outside it – avoiding the threat of 10 per cent tariffs which would have come in under No Deal
- British car manufacturers can use parts from overseas
- UK car firms in the North East will be able to source 60 per cent of their parts from outside the UK and the EU – and still export them to Europe
- This level will be reduced in subsequent years, allowing companies to adapt
VERDICT: A win for UK. The EU had wanted no transition period
SUBSIDIES AND STATE AID
- Both sides must be transparent about subsidies they give businesses, to ensure firms don’t get an unfair advantage
- The EU and the UK must set up an independent authority to oversee state aid
- There is no set limit for how much state aid qualifies as a problem, and disputes will be resolved on a case-by-case basis
VERDICT: A draw. Britain is not bound by the EU ‘state aid’ rules which regulate how much help governments can give companies – but on the other hand, it does not have complete freedom
- Free movement of services will end, meaning British firms will have to comply with varying rules across member states
Five hundred pages long – and not yet published – it sets out the future relationship between the UK and the continent. Pictured: Boris Johnson and Ursula von der Leyen on the steps of No.10
- No decision on ‘equivalence’, which would allow financial firms such as banks to sell their services into the EU single market from the City of London
- No joint declaration to support enhanced cooperation on financial oversight until at least March
VERDICT: A win for the EU. Services are worth 80 per cent of British exports and they are not covered in the agreement, putting Brussels in the driving seat
LEVEL PLAYING FIELD
- No commitment to ‘dynamic alignment’ or anything which would force the UK to mirror European standards
- Both sides agree a ‘non-regression’ clause which means they must not lower their standards in a bid to undercut each other on trade
- This applies to environment rules, social and labour standards, and tax transparency
- Britain agreed to a ‘rebalancing mechanism’ under which the EU could hit back with tariffs if the UK takes action which puts its firms at an unfair advantage
VERDICT: Narrow win for the UK. The Government will not have to move in lock-step with EU changes to standards, but the UK will have its access to the European market reduced if it diverges too far – and it cannot fall below agreed standards to give itself a competitive advantage
- No role for the European Court of Justice
- Either side can hit the other with tariffs – but if one side thinks the decision is unfair they can take it to an arbitration panel
- A Partnership Council of EU and UK representatives will oversee the implementation of the agreement
CRIME, SECURITY AND EXTRADITION: UK win. Remainers had often said it would be impossible to reach such a deal without submitting to the European Court of Justice
- If there is no agreement, an international arbitration tribunal, chaired by an independent figure, will make a binding decision
- Tariffs can be imposed only by the arbitrator, and the EU cannot unilaterally impose ‘lightning tariffs’
VERDICT: A clear UK win. This was a key demand: that the UK should remain outside the scope of EU law. The new dispute mechanism will be based on international law. Mr Johnson also saw off EU demands for a ‘ratchet clause’ which would have allowed the EU to impose unilateral tariffs if it was unhappy at our standards or state aid
- Britain will take back 25 per cent of the current EU fish quota, worth £146 million a year
- But this will happen only after a transition period of five and a half years, to allow EU fishermen to seek other fishing grounds
- At the end of this period, the UK will be in charge of about two thirds of its catch
- From 2026, there will be annual negotiation on the extent of European access
- EU dropped its ‘hammer’ demand that it could impose sanctions across any sector it wished if it did not get what it wanted on fishing
VERDICT: A narrow EU win. A significant compromise from the UK following the most intractable part of the discussions. Mr Johnson had wanted 80 per cent of the EU quota back after three years, but in the end he had to agree to even lower than his final 35 per cent offer.
British fishermen will be in a better position than they were, but the agreement will still be a bitter blow. Brussels dropped its demand that fisheries and the trade deal be linked, removing the threat of UK firms being denied access to the single market following fish disputes
FISHING: A narrow EU win. A significant compromise from the UK following the most intractable part of the discussions
- Farmers will benefit from zero tariffs and zero quotas
- But UK agrifood consignments will have to have health certificates and undergo sanitary controls
- Both sides can maintain their own sanitary standards
VERDICT: UK win. The zero tariffs agreement is much better than the equivalent under WTO rules, which could have seen tariffs of up to 40 per cent imposed
AVIATION AND TRUCKING
- The EU has not granted automatic recognition to British aerospace designs and products
- This will not happen until the EU gains confidence in the UK’s capability for regulation
- Both sides commit to efficient management of visa and border arrangements for hauliers
VERDICT: Narrow EU win. Britain had hoped for greater agreement on aviation
CRIME, SECURITY AND EXTRADITION
- Cooperation on investigation into terrorism and serious crime
- Britain will no longer have real-time access to DNA, fingerprint and airline passenger information, but will receive them quickly
- Britain loses membership of Europol and Eurojust, but the UK will cooperate with them
- Close cooperation on extraditions but with further safeguards beyond the European Arrest Warrant
VERDICT: UK win. Remainers had often said it would be impossible to reach such a deal without submitting to the European Court of Justice. That has been achieved, and the UK also retains the right to deport foreign criminals
TRAVEL AND MIGRATION
- Holidaymakers can visit the continent for 90 days without a visa
TRAVEL AND MIGRATION: Another UK win. One of the key promises of the Vote Leave campaign was that Britain would be able to set its own immigration policy
- No work permits for business travellers, who can also travel to EU for 90 days in any 180-day period
- EU pet passports no longer valid for UK residents
- End to free movement of people with the EU; replaced by a points-based immigration system
VERDICT: Another UK win. One of the key promises of the Vote Leave campaign was that Britain would be able to set its own immigration policy.
EDUCATION AND QUALIFICATIONS
- Britain will not take part in the Erasmus university exchange programme, replacing it with a less-expensive ‘Turing’ scheme
- No automatic mutual recognition of professional qualifications, such as doctors, vets and engineers
- Provides a framework for future recognition
- Agreement on recognition of lawyers’ qualifications
VERDICT: EU win. UK had wanted ‘comprehensive coverage’ on the mutual recognition of professional qualifications.
EDUCATION AND QUALIFICATIONS: EU win. UK had wanted ‘comprehensive coverage’ on the mutual recognition of professional qualifications
HEALTH AND SOCIAL SECURITY
- European Health Insurance Cards (EHIC) will still be valid, allowing British nationals to access free healthcare on the continent
- Coordination of various social security rules, allowing those living abroad to access pensions
- Agreement prevents the export of child benefits
VERDICT: UK win. Britain will retain control on social security benefits to EU migrants while ensuring holidaymakers can access free healthcare
- The province will have to follow single market rules to ensure its border with Ireland remains open
- Customs procedures for goods crossing the Irish Sea, because Northern Ireland will have access to the EU customs union while remaining in the UK customs union
- There will be physical checks on some plant and animal products, but not at the border
- Ulster will remain subject to many EU rules overseen by the European Court of Justice
VERDICT: A compromise. This was what Mr Johnson had to agree to so the UK was not subject to the backstop which scuppered Theresa May’s deal
HEALTH AND SOCIAL SECURITY: UK win. Britain will retain control on social security benefits to EU migrants while ensuring holidaymakers can access free healthcare
- After four years, the whole deal could be terminated if either the UK or the EU believes it is not working
- The entire trade deal can also be reopened if the two sides cannot resolve a serious dispute
- Individual chapters of the trade agreement can also be reopened if there are disputes
VERDICT: UK win. This ensures British sovereignty is maintained if it is unhappy with the way the agreement works out. It ensures the UK will not be subject to unilateral sanctions from Brussels.
Read in full: Government summary of Christmas Eve’s historic Brexit agreement with the EU
By James Robinson for MailOnline
Boris Johnson last night hailed 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.
What is in the Brexit deal? From free trade to fishing quotas the key points in the summary of Britain’s historic agreement with the EU
Here’s a breakdown of the issues raised in the Government’s summary of the UK-EU trade deal:
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.