BREXIT – The European Commission on Thursday, December 24 revealed the detailed outlines of the economic and trade partnership agreement it reached with the United Kingdom, which sets a framework for future relations between the two partners when the transition period ends December 31.
Below are the major points of the agreement:
The agreement guarantees trade without tariffs or quotas for “all goods which comply with the appropriate rules of origin”. Unheard of in a trade agreement.
UK businesses thus retain access to the huge single European market of 450 million consumers. And European firms to 66 million Britons.
This unprecedented agreement avoids a break in production chains, which would have been very problematic for certain sectors such as the automobile.
The UK and the EU are committed to a level playing field “by maintaining high levels of protection in areas such as environmental protection, tackling climate change and carbon pricing, social and labour rights, fiscal transparency and state aid ”.
If one of the two parties fails to meet its obligations in this regard, it will be possible to take “corrective measures”, such as tariffs.
If the UK or the EU does not comply with the treaty, a binding dispute settlement mechanism, such as exists in most trade agreements, will be responsible for settling the disputes.
Faced with firm opposition from London, the Court of Justice of the European Union will not intervene in this process.
A “Joint Council” will ensure that the agreement is correctly applied and interpreted.
The agreement provides for giving European fishermen access to British waters for a transitional period of 5.5 years, until June 2026.
During this transition, the EU will have to gradually give up 25% of its catch, which amounts to around 650 million euros per year.
The treaty guarantees uninterrupted air, road, rail and sea connectivity, but in a less advantageous way than if the UK remained a member of the single market.
Provisions aim to ensure that competition between operators is exercised on a level playing field “so that the rights of passengers, workers and transport safety are not compromised”.
The UK will continue to participate in some EU programs for the period 2021-2027, such as the Horizon Europe research and innovation program, on condition that it contributes to the EU budget.
The agreement “establishes a new framework” for police and judicial cooperation, “in particular to combat cross-border crime and terrorism”.
This cooperation may be suspended if the United Kingdom renounces its adherence to the European Convention on Human Rights or “to have it applied at the national level”.
Cooperation on foreign policy, external security and defence is not covered by the agreement, as the UK did not want to negotiate this issue.
The European exchange program for Erasmus students has been abandoned by the UK, with Boris Johnson citing cost issues and announcing a global program to replace it.