- BBC World News
It was a “tortuous road”, a “fierce” negotiation, as its protagonists said, but finally the United Kingdom and the European Union reached a historic agreement to avoid a hard Brexit.
Here we present a quick guide with eight keys to understand the scope of what was agreed this Thursday.
1. The EU and Brexit
The European Union is made up of 27 states following the UK’s decision to become the first country to leave the bloc.
That decision was taken in a referendum organized in 2016, in which 52% of voters opted for separation from the EU, which became known as Brexit.
It was on January 31, 2020 when Brexit formally entered into force, giving rise to a transition period that served to negotiate the trade and security agreement.
EU citizens are free to live and work in other treaty countries and companies can buy and sell each other’s products without additional taxes.
2. When comes into force the business deal?
The agreement must enter into force on January 1, 2021. To do this, it should first become law, that is, it must be ratified by both the British and European Parliament.
The UK government could have members of Parliament meet over the Christmas period to vote on the deal.
But as the negotiations were delayed until December, just seven days before the end of the transition period, the European Parliament will not have time to ratify it before the end of the year.
That shouldn’t prevent the agreement from going into effect on January 1, but it will take longer for it to be officially ratified.
3. The meaning of the agreement
What was achieved this Thursday is, in part, a free trade agreement that contemplates that there will be no tariffs on goods when they cross borders.
Nor will there be limits on the amount of products that can be exchanged.
The UK government indicates that the agreement covers trade estimated to be worth US $ 91 billion in 2019. That is why it is noted that London managed to avoid a hard Brexit.
The president of the European Commission, Ursula Von der Leyen, said that the commercial competition rules, designed to prevent one side from gaining an advantage “will be fair and will remain so.”
He added that the UK and the EU “will continue to cooperate in all areas of mutual interest, including issues such as climate change, energy, safety and the transport”.
However, even with an agreement, there will be some new border controls, so companies will need to be prepared for the changes.
And the UK will not participate in the Erasmus exchange program for students.
Soon after it is announced, there are still many details to discuss and it may take some time to fully understand what the agreement reached means for everyday life.
And that also includes going on vacation or study in the EU in the future for the British.
4. How important is it?
The EU is the UK’s closest and largest trading partner, so getting a post-Brexit deal was always a priority.
While it was within the European Union, with the customs union, companies could buy and sell goods within the European space freely.
Without the deal, the companies feared they would have to start paying taxes, which would have increased their costs.
5. What about other UK trade agreements?
When the UK was in the EU, it was automatically part of the trade agreements it has with more than 70 countries.
After retirement, the British government made deals with 58 of those countries to continue operating in the same way.
Talks are still in progress with 10 countries, but many of the bigger deals have already been made.
Brexit supporters say leaving the EU will give the UK more freedom to achieve commercial agreements all over the world.
Instead, opponents say it is better to stay close to the EU because it is a very important trading partner.
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Digsmak is a news publisher with over 12 years of reporting experiance; and have published in many industry leading publications and news sites.