UK and EU Trade Deal: The Countdown to Brexit

On 24 December 2020, an historic agreement took place. Both parties have now advanced to the signature and ratification of a trade deal between the UK and the EU. In accordance with the negotiations, its enforcement is expected to begin by 1 January 2021. 

This trade deal is the first modern agreement to break up a long-standing partnership and set up legal barriers between nations. The Brexit trade deal oversees an economic market, that as of 2019, is worth approximately £670 billion and covers the trade of goods and services, including data protection, aviation, energy interconnection and civil nuclear cooperation. 

If the goods’ rules of origin, which determines the exact place of manufacture percentage of each good, are mostly derived from a country bound by the agreement, the deal permits tariffs and quota-free trade. Regardless, all UK exports will have to undergo customs checks and controls, including sanitary protocols and border inspections. Movement of goods will be eased by keeping unlimited road and air transportation, with certain detailed commitments regarding air transport and passenger rights. 

Surely, British businesses are in for a considerable amount of paperwork in order to catch up to the new trade policies. Yet, the agreement goes both ways, meaning that both the EU and UK are able to establish their own rules such as geographical indications and additional regulations that suit their own markets. 

Furthermore, the EU granted the UK its status as a third-country, which verifies the country’s animal health and biosecurity standards required to trade animal products and livestock. However, this will most likely mean the enforcement of extensive coronavirus travel restrictions on non-EU nationals. The countries have chosen to address certain regulatory barriers based upon the World Trade Organization’s technical barriers agreement, with specific annexes on the chemical, pharmaceutical and other sensitive sectors. 

The deal also covers topics like climate change, labour rights, tax, and politically sensitive areas of state aid, in order to promote fair competition and system independence. Moreover, it addresses an agreed transition period (until June 2026) to new quota shares on the UK waters, guaranteeing the EU access to said waters for five more years. Another area of note and importance for both parties was the energy arrangement, since they share a great deal of technology and companies that operate in both markets. It must be said that this commitment may be suspended if either party violates or fails to enforce their covenant on the Paris climate accord. 

Concerning the free movement of people, UK citizens will no longer enjoy the freedom to work, study or move to countries in the European Union without visas. Passports will be stamped at the border along with routinely customs checks; thus, achieving Boris Johnson’s desired immigration sovereignty.

As Johnson tweeted: “The deal is done”.