Politicians across Scandinavia have voiced their extreme pleasure over the last-ditch Brexit trade deal struck between British and EU negotiators.
The draft agreement between the EU and the UK is the best Christmas gift the parties can give to each other after many months of long and difficult negotiations, Danish Foreign Minister Jeppe Kofod said after Britain and the EU reached an agreement on Christmas Eve.
"It was ready in the 11th hour, and it is very positive that a negotiated result has been reached. It has been intense and difficult negotiations all along, as everyone has been able to see", Kofod said, as quoted by Danish Radio. "Now it seems that we are reaching our goal and avoiding this harmful no-deal Brexit, where Britain falls out completely without an agreement", he added.
The "divorce" will be less bitter now that an agreement has been struck, Jeppe Kofod argued, pledging to closely study the 2,000-page text and judge its reasonableness. "The devil may be in the details. It is ultimately about the jobs of ordinary Danes", Jeppe Kofod said.
The same sentiment, a mixture of relief and elation, was echoed by Norway.
"I would like to congratulate the UK and the EU for reaching an agreement about their future relationship. This is good news for the UK, the EU, and Norway. An agreement will provide predictability for everyone, including us", Norwegian Prime Minister Erna Solberg said, as quoted by TV2, emphasising that her country is "well equipped" for this new situation.
Ole Erik Almlid, the chief of the Confederation of Norwegian Enterprises also welcomed the agreement.
"This prevents a major economic crisis and provides companies with predictability about the driving rules for trade between the EU and the UK", Almlid said, stressing Britain's role as Norway's largest recipient of exports. Unlike its neighbours, Norway isn't part of the EU, but is a member of the European Economic Area and shares most of the benefits, as well as costs. "It is important for us that the British economy is doing well", he said, suggesting that a no-deal situation would intensify its economic downturn from the COVID-19 pandemic.
In Sweden, reactions have likewise been positive. Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Löfven called the Brexit agreement "very gratifying".
"This is something that we in the EU have worked for a long time for, and the agreement is an important basis for the continued relationship with the UK", Prime Minister Stefan Löfven told national broadcaster SVT. "With an agreement, we are much better equipped, although of course it will still be noticeable that the UK leaves the EU. Now there is the framework for future close cooperation between the UK and Sweden and the EU. This is something we are looking forward to", Löfven said.
Sweden's EU Minister Hans Dahlgren echoed his boss, calling the deal "good news for Sweden, good news for the whole EU and for the UK" and admitting relief. A no-deal scenario, he stressed, would have been far more expensive for consumers and would have resulted in a quagmire for all kinds of cooperation, including research, security, and transport.
Scandinavia has historically had strong ties with the UK, both as trading partners and diplomatically. Denmark's and Sweden's voting patterns on EU issues tended to largely coincide with those of the UK. London's troubled departure from the union has now left them without a key ally.
The agreement reached by EU and the UK has not yet been finalised, with the House of Commons expected to vote on the deal next week, just days before Britain finally leaves the bloc. EU countries and the European Parliament must also approve the agreement.