The UK and the EU have been negotiating a trade deal for the past few months. It looks the two parties have finally made progress, and a deal is ready. The final details of the agreement were expected to be revealed on Thursday.
Negotiations have been fraught at times. Both sides have accused each other of the deadlock that now sets to have been resolved. The UK leaves EU trading rules next week, as the calendar turns to 2021. Final haggling between the two sides went on until the last minute. It’s reported the discussion continued through Wednesday night.
Deal to end uncertainty
The trade deal should end the prospect of widespread import taxes on both sides. Businesses and economists had warned about the dangers of a no-deal Brexit. Without a negotiated trade deal, prices could have dramatically increased. The agreement aims to bring much-needed certainty to business.
Reports suggest the deal document is around 2,000 pages long. It sets out clear rules in regards to trading. The deal also outlines things such as fishing quotas, which have been a source for last-minute negotiations. The two sides have also agreed on a system to sort out disputes. It is understood the system would follow international rather than EU law.
As soon as the reports of a deal broke this morning, businesses let out a sigh of relief. The prospect of a no-deal Brexit was widely considered the worst option. Chairman of Barclays UK, Sir Ian Cheshire, told the Today programme (as reported by the Guardian) that the deal allows businesses to finally plan. “I think that’s been the overriding issue for business over the last two years. They are occasionally accused of not being ready, and the question is – ready for what?” he went on to say.
However, business leaders are also warning that even with a deal, friction at the border is possible. Customs checks and formalities could cost extra time and money, which is bad news for businesses already struggling with the coronavirus pandemic.
What happens next?
The deal will be heavily scrutinised in the UK but also in EU member states. The EU can apply a deal provisionally before the European Parliament holds a ratification vote. The vote will be held next year. Depending on the deal’s content, member countries might also have to follow national ratification protocols.
In the UK, the deal will be put to Parliament. It's likely Parliament will be recalled to vote before the end of the year. Conservative MPs in the Brexit-supporting European Research Group have said they will review the deal carefully. The coming days might not be quiet and peaceful, as there are dissenting voices out already.