The United Kingdom and the European Union have finally struck a trade agreement on Thursday following years of negotiations to set terms for a post-Brexit future.
The deal, which must be agreed upon between both the British parliament and European Parliament came together after 11 months of bitter negotiations, resulting in a last-minute bargain over fishing rights in British waters that stretched into Christmas Eve, 11 days before the deadline.
The agreement leaves critical parts of the relationship to be ironed out a later date, despite it being thousands of pages in length.
The deal is a landmark in the long running negotiations between the European Union and United Kingdom, to solidify the coexistence of an independent United Kingdom and European Union.
“It was a long and winding road, but we have got a good deal to show for it,” said Ursula von der Leyen, the president of the European Commission. “This moment marks the end of a long voyage.”
If approved, the agreement will take effect on January 1, four and a half years after a nationwide vote for Britain to leave the union.
British Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, who vowed to get “Brexit done,” spoke shortly after the announcement stating, “we’ve taken back control of our laws and our destiny.”
“For the first time since 1973 we will be an independent coastal nation with full control of our own waters.”
The Prime Minister had to make significant concessions on rules that cover state aid to businesses and European rights to continue fishing in the contested waters.
The last, and most sensitive issue revolved around fishing rights is both sides agreeing to a 25 percent reduction in quotas for European nations to be phased in over five-and-a-half years.
The agreement does not cover services, such as London’s finance sector, accounting for approximately 80 percent of the British economy.
The New York Times writes:
"For the European Union, defending the integrity of its single market was paramount. Britain’s go-it-alone instincts meant that Brussels risked giving preferential access to its market to a competitor who applied less stringent standards to exports.
While much of the talks revolved around arcane issues of state aid and dispute resolution mechanisms, they were nearly sunk in the end by the politically fraught, if economically marginal, issue of fishing rights.
In Britain, just 12,000 people fish from 6,000 vessels and contribute less than half of one percent to the country’s economic output — less than that of the fashionable London department store Harrods. But in coastal towns and villages on both sides of the English Channel, fishing is of vital importance."