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Divorce finally recorded between London and Brussels

After more than four years of negotiations, Ursula von der Leyen and Charles Michel signed the post-Brexit trade agreement with London on Wednesday to frame the historic break, which is due to come into force Thursday at 11 p.m.

After more than four years of negotiations, Ursula von der Leyen and Charles Michel signed the post-Brexit trade agreement with London on Wednesday to frame the historic break, which is due to come into force Thursday at 11 p.m.

(AFP) – It was about time. After more than four years of negotiations, the rupture between the United Kingdom and the European Union is taking shape. The president of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen and her counterpart of the Council Charles Michel, smiling, signed these texts in front of the cameras and the photographers. The documents must then be transported by a Royal Air Force plane to London to also be initialed by Prime Minister Boris Johnson.

“The agreement we signed today is the result of months of intense negotiations in which the European Union has shown unprecedented unity,” commented Charles Michel in a statement. “It is a fair and balanced agreement which fully protects the fundamental interests of the European Union,” he said.

The 1,246-page text, concluded on Christmas Eve to avoid the chaos of a “no deal”, must also be signed during the day by Boris Johnson, and debated by British parliamentarians. There is little doubt that it will be passed, given the majority the Conservative leader’s government has in the House of Commons. After the green light of the 27 at the beginning of the week, it will allow both parties to ratify it at the last minute for entry into force Thursday evening at 11 p.m. in London, or midnight in Brussels.

After 47 years of European integration and four and a half years of heartbreak following the Brexit referendum, the United Kingdom, which formally left the EU on January 31, will then cease to apply European rules. He will leave the single European market, the customs union and the Erasmus student exchange program. The bill presented to MPs “shows that the UK can be both European and sovereign,” Boris Johnson said in a statement.

“We will open a new chapter in our national narrative, making trade deals all over the world (…) and reaffirming the UK as a force for good, liberal and outward looking,” he said. -he adds. He pledged that the country would become “the EU’s best friend and ally” after being “an unconvinced, sometimes obstructive member”. MPs had to interrupt their vacation to sit from 0930 GMT. The text should only be debated a few hours before a vote in the early afternoon. Then it will be the turn of the Lords in the upper house to decide.

Military transport

The Conservative government has a large majority and Keir Starmer, the Labor opposition leader, called on his troops to approve the deal, despite the rejection of part of Labor, fearing its economic and social repercussions. In the conservative camp, the most fervent supporters of Brexit of the European Research Group have fallen into line, believing that the agreement “preserves British sovereignty”.

The small North Irish Unionist party DUP, which is favorable to Brexit but opposed to customs controls between the British province and the rest of the United Kingdom, will oppose the text, as well as the Europhiles of the Liberal Democratic Party and the Scottish independence party SNP. On the European side, the 27 gave the green light to a provisional application of the agreement, pending its approval by MEPs in the first quarter of 2021, necessary for its ratification.

Threatened unit

Leaving the EU on January 31, the United Kingdom has since been in a period of transition during which it continues to observe European rules. Thursday evening, he will really cast off. By reaching a free trade agreement, London and Brussels are avoiding the shock of a “no deal” with trade barriers that would have cost their economies dearly, already weakened by the pandemic. Boris Johnson does not need a new crisis: British hospitals are on the verge of rupture and contaminations are accelerating despite the re-containment of a large part of the population since the discovery of a more contagious variant of virus.

With this agreement reached after months of fierce negotiations, the EU offers London duty-free and quota-free access to its market of 450 million consumers, but provides for penalties and compensatory measures in the event of non-compliance with its rules in matters of state aid, environment, labor law and taxation, to avoid any dumping. However, the end of the post-Brexit transition period marks a major upheaval.

Customs controls at the borders will increase trade and free movement will stop for the British and EU citizens in their respective territories. The British government also sees the unity of the Kingdom crack. In Scotland, which voted 62% against Brexit in 2016, polls now show a majority of the population in favor of independence, yet rejected by a first referendum in 2015.


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