European capitals have welcomed the deal on what most hailed as a good post-Brexit trade deal between the UK and the EU, but described it as the worst outcome and cautioned that they had not yet studied the fine print.
Emmanuel macron said “European unity and steadfastness have paid off”, but Paris would now be checking that the agreement protected the French fishing industry.
The 2,000-page treaty was “essential to protect our citizens, our fishermen, our producers … We will make sure that is so,” the French president tweeted, adding that Europe can now look to the future “united, sovereign and strong”. .
Germany’s Angela Merkel was satisfied with an agreement “of historical importance”. Berlin would now study the text “intensively”, said the chancellor, and hoped “soon to be in a position where we can judge whether Germany can support today’s result … I am optimistic that we have a good result in front of us here.” .
Merkel said the German cabinet will meet by phone on December 28 to decide its position, but added that the agreement “cannot finally enter into force until the European parliament has also given its approval.”
Micheál Martin, Ireland’s taoiseach, said Dublin would now also “consider the details of the text very carefully.” The Brexit journey had been “long and difficult,” he said, and implementation of the Northern Ireland protocol would be critical.
Irish fishing communities “will be disappointed with the outcome,” Martin admitted, but “compared to a deal, which would have excluded them entirely from British waters, negotiators have worked hard to minimize the damage.”
However, Irish companies would now face “new customs and regulatory formalities, procedures and controls”. “There was no ‘good Brexit’ for Ireland,” Martin said. The deal was “the least bad version of Brexit possible.”
Ireland’s European Affairs Minister Thomas Byrne said it was “a bittersweet day for us. We hate that Britain is leaving, but we were eager to close the deal to do so. ”Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz said Vienna would study the text.
MEPs said UK compliance with the deal would be closely monitored. The chairman of the parliament’s committee for the environment, public health and food safety, Pascal Canfin, tweeted that it would be “extremely careful”.
Canfin said his committee “will ensure the full implementation of provisions protecting EU citizens and companies manufacturing in the EU from climate spill and non-compliance with our food safety standards” by UK companies. .
Philippe Lamberts, the head of the Greens in the European Parliament, said that the main objective of the bloc had been “always to protect the integrity of our single market, one of the key pillars of the union, and it seems that this agreement achieves that”.
Lamberts said, however, that “the devil is always in the details” and parliament would insist that he be given “adequate time to scrutinize and potentially ratify such a far-reaching agreement. We are not here just to seal deals. “
The Prime Minister of Spain, Pedro Sánchez, he said in a tweet which welcomed the deal, but cautioned that talks between Spain and the UK on how Brexit would affect the British overseas territory of Gibraltar had not yet been concluded.
Sánchez said that member states will examine the agreement and that the EU council will make its position clear in the coming days. “The dialogue between Spain and the United Kingdom continues to reach an agreement on Gibraltar,” he added.
Fabian Picardo, Prime Minister of Gibraltar, said the agreement did not cover Gibraltar and that “for us, and the people of the Campo de Gibraltar that surrounds us, the clock is ticking.”
His administration “will continue to work, hand in hand with the United Kingdom, to finalize the negotiation with Spain of an agreement for a proposed treaty between the EU and the United Kingdom in relation to Gibraltar,” Picardo said.
Mark Rutte, the prime minister of the Netherlands, one of the toughest in the EU27 on various aspects of the negotiations, praised the deal as “excellent news”, but Dutch Foreign Minister Stef Blok said La Haya would examine the text. with great care.
“We will pay particular attention to the agreements on a level playing field, the access of Dutch fishing vessels to British waters and the governance of the agreement,” Blok said, adding: “There is very little time to do this.”
Belgian Prime Minister Alexander De Croo said that only one thing mattered to him: “Ensuring the best possible protection for Belgium’s economic interests. We must protect our Belgian companies from unfair British competition. “
The deal offers the prospect of “maintaining our strong relationship with the UK post-Brexit, but provides crucial guarantees for fair competition for our companies,” he said.
Portugal’s prime minister, António Costa, said his country “warmly welcomed” the agreement, adding that the UK will remain “in addition to our neighbor and our ally, an important partner” after January 1.
Franziska Brantner, spokesperson for Europe for the German Greens parliamentary group, said the EU27 “had not allowed itself to be divided by Johnson’s risky policy” and would now “check whether the conditions for fair competition and the option of sanctions against dumping they are solidly anchored in the text. “
The European commentators weren’t charitable. “The trade agreement does not match the promises made after the 2016 EU accession referendum”, said the weekly Die Zeit. “At the time, Johnson’s promise was that the UK would retain the benefits of EU membership.
“That is no longer the case. Despite an agreement, trade between countries will have to bear the brunt of more bureaucracy and more border controls. The deal does not apply to services, especially financial services. It is no longer offered. The free movement of workers “.
The Spanish daily El País said that London had “seen in the last hours, as a result of border closures, the monumental damage that a no-deal Brexit would have caused. The British side would be the most affected by a chaotic exit from the single market, a risk that has been on the table in recent weeks and is now being avoided ”.
Digsmak is a news publisher with over 12 years of reporting experiance; and have published in many industry leading publications and news sites.