Fishing, the final obstacle to an imminent Brexit deal

FILE PHOTO: Toy figures in front of the Brexit logo in this illustrative photo, March 30, 2019. REUTERS / Dado Ruvic / Illustration reuters_tickers

This content was published on 24 December 2020 – 11:06

Por Guy Faulconbridge, Elizabeth Piper y John Chalmers

LONDON / BRUSSELS, Dec 24 (Reuters) – Thursday dawned with the expectation that the United Kingdom and the European Union would announce a long-awaited trade agreement that would avoid a chaotic end to Brexit, the first major failure in the 70-year project to forge. a pan-European unit behind the ruins of World War II.

While a last-minute deal would avoid the bitterest of Brexit endings, the UK is heading towards a much more distant relationship with its biggest trading partner than hardly anyone expected at the time of the 2016 referendum.

Sources in London and Brussels said the deal was close, after British Prime Minister Boris Johnson held a late-night conference call with his top ministers as Brussels negotiators pored over a number of legal texts.

However, there was still no official confirmation of the deal, but Johnson is expected to hold a press conference throughout the day, just seven days before the UK leaves the single market and the EU customs union, which It will take effect at 2300 GMT on December 31.

Irish Foreign Minister Simon Coveney said that only a last-minute fisheries-related issue would be delaying the announcement of the deal, although a deal was still expected to be made public later on Thursday.

“There is some kind of last minute problem” related to some “details” of a fishing agreement, Coveney told Irish radio RTE after weeks of tug of war over the amount of fish EU vessels will be able to catch in British waters.

“Certainly the feeling and the expectation is that we will have a Christmas Eve deal on Brexit and I can tell you that it will be a huge relief,” Coveney said.

News that a deal was imminent, first reported by Reuters on Wednesday, triggered a 1.4% rise in the pound against the dollar. Bond yields were up around the world. [GBP/] [US/] [GB/] [FRX/] [GVD/EUR]

The United Kingdom officially left the European Union on January 31, finding itself in a transition period since then in which the rules on trade, travel and business have not changed. But after the end of this year, Brussels will treat it as a third country.

By reaching a zero-tariff, zero-quota agreement, it would help smooth a flow of goods that accounts for half of its $ 900 billion in annual trade. It would also strengthen peace in Northern Ireland, a priority for US President-elect Joe Biden, who has warned Johnson that he must abide by the 1998 Good Friday peace agreement.

Even with a deal, some disruptions are certain to follow from January 1, when Britain ends its often strained 48-year relationship with a project led by the Franco-German axis that sought to unite nations into a global power. ruins of post-WWII Europe.

After months of talks that affected both the COVID-19 crisis and the differences between London and Paris, the leaders of the 27 EU member states have opted for an agreement as a way to avoid the nightmare of a “chaotic divorce “.

But Europe’s second-largest economy will abandon both the EU single market of 450 million consumers that the late British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher helped create, as well as its customs union.

(Information by Gabriela Baczynska, Guy Faulconbridge, Elizabeth Piper, Conor Humphries, Kate Holton, John Chalmers, William Schomberg, Paul Sandle, and Michael Holden; written by Guy Faulconbridge; edited by Kevin Liffey and Toby Chopra; translated by Darío Fernández in the editorial from Gdansk)

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