The United Kingdom and the European Union have agreed on a Brexit trade deal after months of intense negotiations.
The UK Prime Minister has confirmed that the deal has been achieved, adding that parliament will vote on the agreement, presumably on 30 December.
During the press conference that followed the negotiations on the subject, the prime minister announced that the agreement was "a comprehensive Canada-style deal" and particularly expressed what the British people voted for in 2016.
"So I'm very pleased to tell you this afternoon that we have completed the biggest trade deal yet, worth £660 billion a year, a comprehensive Canada-style free-trade deal between the UK and the EU", Johnson revealed.
“We have today resolved a question that has bedevilled our politics for decades. It is up to us all together as a newly and truly independent nation to realise the immensity of this moment and to make the most of it," the PM added.
He said that the European Court of Justice jurisdiction "will come to an end now", as the UK will set its own standards.
“We've taken back control of our laws and our destiny," the prime minister argued during a press release.
According to Johnson, the country "will be able to cherish" its landscape however it chooses as an "independent coastal state". The share of fish the British will be allowed to keep will rise to two-thirds from about a half, Johnson said, and British companies will now be able to do "even more" business with Europe.
Directly addressing the EU, Johnson said: "We will be your friend, your ally, your supporter and indeed, never let it be forgotten, your number one market".
Reactions From EU Partners
The news on the deal was first confirmed by EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, who called the long-anticipated arrangement "good". She also added that the agreement was "fair, balanced and right", although the talks on the subject were "very difficult".
"It was a long and winding road. But we have got a good deal to show for it," the EU chief executive said during the press conference. "A lot was at stake for so many people, so this was an agreement that we absolutely had to fight for."
Von der Leyen added that the whole debate was "always about sovereignty", noting that the partners will achieve more together than apart.
"I believe, also, that this agreement is in the United Kingdom's interest. It will set solid foundations for a new start with a long-term friend. And it means that we can finally put Brexit behind us, and Europe is continuing to move forward".
EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier in turn called 24 December the "day of relief".
According to Barnier, Great Britain now has "new status" as an "independent coastal state". He added that the deal, "unprecedented in scope and complexity", is the signal that "new generations of free-trade agreements" have started.
"The clock is no longer ticking," Barnier told reporters. "Today is a day of relief. But tainted with some sadness, as we compare what came before with what lies ahead."
What is Known About the Deal So Far
The news was first reported by Reuters citing a source from the EU. According to the report, "all of the key red lines about returning sovereignty" stipulated by the UK "have been achieved".
ITV Podcasts presenter Daniel Hewitt shared a statement allegedly coming from Downing Street, which claimed that the deal was "fantastic news".
BREAKING: Brexit deal done.— Daniel Hewitt (@DanielHewittITV) December 24, 2020
This statement just issued from Downing Street. Press conference coming shortly. pic.twitter.com/PzIz3Ckk6t
According to the statement which is being circulated, "everything that the British public was promised during the 2016 referendum and in the general election last year" has been "delivered by this deal".
The free-trade deal is expected to be "based on zero tariffs and zero quotas" and is the first such "that has ever been achieved with the EU".
The United Kingdom has agreed a Free Trade Agreement with the European Union.— UK Prime Minister (@10DowningStreet) December 24, 2020
See what this deal means for you ⬇️ pic.twitter.com/x4DetmQqcO
Reports emerged on Wednesday night that there was a good chance of an EU-UK post-Brexit deal coming despite gloomy predictions beforehand that the likelihood was very slim. According to anonymous officials, London has prepared to make some "huge concessions" to secure the deal with Brussels in the end.
European stock futures and the British pound have reacted positively to the news, making some big jumps on Thursday morning.
Long Path to the Trade Deal
After long deliberations and 'cry moments' from former Prime Minister Theresa May that followed the Brexit referendum in 2016, the United Kingdom officially left the European Union on 31 January 2020.
The date did not signify the end of negotiations between London and Brussels though, as the UK then entered an 11-month transition period to secure a trade deal with the bloc that would substitute all existing agreements after it leaves the European Single Market.
London has been striving for a free trade agreement with the EU that would allow partners to trade without taxes on goods, or at least something resembling Australia-style arrangements that establish some principles of co-operations and concessions - although with quota restrictions and a range of tariffs still in place.
Johnson had previously stipulated that the UK may strike an agreement with the EU similar to the one it has with Canada - a Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement, known to many as Ceta. The EU-Canada deal gets rid of most of the tariffs although the ones on meat and eggs remain.
But the talks have proved difficult. EU and British officials have been at loggerheads mainly about the fishing rights EU trawlers may continue to enjoy in UK waters after 31 December, as well as competition rules outlined by so-called "level playing field" conditions and legal governance in relation to potential trade disputes.
To Fish or Not to Fish (in British Waters)
The fisheries issue was particularly painful for the UK. Britain demanded that the value of the fish EU boats catch in UK waters should be curtailed by 60% - something the EU found completely unacceptable. Later it was reported that Johnson has made significant concessions on the issue - just a 30% cut in the value reduction. But the bloc still was not happy about these numbers, the reports have suggested, maintaining that this was still too much for countries such as France and Denmark.
Negotiators have also been discussing the length of time EU boats would be allowed to gain access to British waters and mechanisms behind potential dispute settlement if things do not go according to plan.
London indicated that it would agree to accept tariffs in the future if Downing Street decides to restrict EU trawlers from fishing in its waters but was not ready to compromise on free-trade arrangements in other areas such as energy.
Johnson maintained that it was an issue of sovereignty for London.
"All that it takes is for them to understand that the UK has a natural right, like every other country, to be able to want to control its own laws and its own fishing grounds," the prime minister said on 16 December after speaking to EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen.
At that time, he argued that the no-deal scenario was "the most likely outcome" of prolonged negotiations, although still not a desirable one. Von der Leyen sounded more optimistic - she outlined that there was "a path to an agreement", although a "very narrow" one.
Johnson, however, argued that Great Britain will still "prosper", whatever happens after 31 December.
After the deal was secured on 24 December, Johnson said that compromise was "not a dirty word".