Four and half years after saying they want to leave the European Union, the United Kingdom and the EU member countries have formally agreed to a Brexit deal. The deal materialized after a final call on Christmas eve between UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen. Afterward, the country formalized its exit from the single market and customs union a week before the end of the UK’s transition period.
The Deal is Done
A ministry spokesperson said: “The deal is done. Everything that the British public was promised during the 2016 referendum and in the general election last year is delivered by this deal. We have taken back control of our money, borders, laws, trade, and fishing waters. The deal is fantastic news for families and businesses in every part of the UK. We have signed the first free trade agreement based on zero tariffs and zero quotas that has ever been achieved.”
While Great Britain filed its leave over four years ago, its membership to the EU underwent a transition period to give everybody time to sort out their arrangements. By January 1, 2021, the UK will cease its commitment to the union’s harmonized movement of trade and observe customs regulations. Legally and politically, the UK is already independent. For economic, trade, security, and other cooperation agreements, the UK needs time to work out its departure. At stake is $800 billion in trade between the UK and the EU.
The Brexit agreement runs to over 2,000 pages and covers what happens once the United Kingdom steps out of the EU’s shadow. The new deal covers specifics for its new free trade deal with each other. It also outlines a new arrangement for security cooperation. Also, the deal documented rules on transports, fisheries, and travel restrictions covering pets. The agreement contains provisions for future and expanded cooperation.
The Brexit deal also tackles issues that previously hindered an agreement. This includes defining how much the UK needs to conform to EU labor standards. It also addresses their relationship on environmental issues such as pollution, private sector government support, and fisheries.
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Why the UK Wanted To Leave
Among the member nations, the UK is the least Europeanised as British trading patterns, capital flows, and emigration patterns were far from EU normal standards. The country famously resisted using the standard euro as currency and insisted on retaining the British pound. Some voters deplore Parliament’s lack of sovereignty in matters of trade and immigration. Also, there were economists who thought that EU regulations imposed on personal market freedom.
At the same time, English nationalism carried the referendum. England is the largest group to vote “Leave,” followed by Wales with a slim margin. Scotland and Northern Ireland voted “Remain,” leaving some analysts to conclude that Brexit was driven disproportionately by voters after “English national identity.” In fact, Scotland used the referendum results to campaign for withdrawal from the United Kingdom.
A Short History
Brexit is the popular term for Great Britain’s decision to leave the union. British citizens voted to leave the EU in a referendum held in June 2016. The country formalized its decision the following January in a narrow victory where 52% voted in favor of Brexit.
Originally, the European Union started as a postwar effort to regulate coal and steel production between six European powerhouses Belgium, France, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, and West Germany. Great Britain, Ireland, and Denmark joined the group in 1973. Today, it consists of 27 countries (not including the UK) with a constituent base of 450 million. These countries agree to cooperate and abide by standardized rules regarding trade, economic, legal, and security matters.
Johnson took over when two previous PMs couldn’t secure Parliament approval for the withdrawal. He got his approval for the country to leave the EU by 2021. Also, he managed to renegotiate agreements covering the settling of financial commitments of the union and updated the status of EU and UK citizens when traveling to and from each other. Johnson also helped put a stop to the establishment of a hard border on Ireland.
The transition period kept all economic relations between the UK and the union’s member countries as is. The United Kingdom will retain its access to EU data and joint security cooperation agreements. While the original transition ends in December 2022, Johnson insisted they will only need the transition until the end of 2020.
Effect on US-EU Relations
President Donald Trump publicly supported the Brexit deal and wanted to establish a trade deal with the UK as soon as they leave the union. In 2019, Trump stated that a US-UK trade deal could boost trade “four to five times higher than it is right now.” With Joe Biden assuming the mantle next year, experts predict that the US will revert to its traditional stand of supporting the EU. The UK’s removal from the EU will also lessen its influence, and therefore its value to the US.
What the CNBC video reporting that the UK and EU agree to a Brexit deal before its Dec 31 deadline:
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Even with its colonial history, the United Kingdom is a traditional ally that supported the US for about a century. As it embarks on its role freeing itself from the European Union, what should the US do? Let us know what you think by commenting below.