Nine months on from our split with Brussels, the Prime Minister will finally guide the country out of the bloc’s single market and customs union on New Year’s Eve. We will walk away from the EU with a zero-tariff, zero-quota free-trade agreement at the end of the transition period next week. Britain will also take back full control of its coastal waters, after a short transition period, on the ten-year anniversary of the EU referendum.
UK Brexit envoy Lord Frost was wrangling with the bloc’s top officials until after midnight in Brussels to clinch the agreement.
And the battle over fisheries continued until this afternoon after EU officials used the wrong figures to calculate the compromise.
Sources say the agreement will allow Britain to keep half the catch in our coastal waters, rising to two-thirds by June 2026.
This means Brussels handed back 25 percent of the value of fish that EU vessels caught in the UK’s fishing grounds.
The outcome of the talks on fishing representing a huge climbdown by eurocrats, who were wanted to give back just 15-18 percent over a 10-year period.
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One source said: “We’ve secured something good in the immediate term for our fishermen and a period for them to build up the fleet.”
Downing Street officials were overjoyed with their work, claiming a number of victories over the bloc.
They insisted Britain had secured superb conditions for the country’s manufacturing industry, especially for new green technologies.
Prime Minister Mr Johnson and European Commission President were expected to announce the deal earlier today.
But they were locked in a series of phone calls between No 10 and the EU’s Berlaymont HQ as the wrangling went on into the early hours.
The pair will hold separate media events to officials unveil the deal on Christmas Eve while EU officials scramble to ensure the deal can enter into force in time for January 1.
EU government will have two days to examine and approve the draft under a procedure laid out by Brussels officials to rush through the ratification process.
As negotiators worked on the final touches on the fisheries agreement, boastful French officials claimed the EU had won “huge concessions” from Britain.
But their bragging infuriated other EU diplomats, who feared premature spinning could poison the atmosphere just as the talks were concluding.
British sources dismissed the briefings out of Paris as posturing.
French President Emmanuel Macron has been demanding close to unchanged access to the UK’s six to 12-mile coastal zone, where French boats net many of their catches.
His Europe minister Clement Beaune said France would have pulled the plug on the negotiations but for the destructive impact a no deal Brexit would’ve had on its fishing industry.
EU27 ambassadors are poised to meet on Thursday to decide whether the bloc should support the proposals for the future relationship pact.
If the deal receives a green-light, Brussels will offer to “provisionally apply” the treaty to ensure it can enter into force at the end of Britain’s transition out of the EU on January 1.
Member nations and MEPs will then be made to complete the ratification process early in the New Year.
European Council lawyers had warned any agreement would need to have been struck by Thursday to give them enough time to draft the necessary paperwork.
Mr Barnier has told colleagues the post-Brexit deal will pave the way for a “new generation of free-trade agreement”.
According to EU insiders, the Brussels diplomat believes the so-called “level-playing field” provision will be widely adopted in future negotiations between other independent states.
In one private meeting, Mr Barnier said: “The agreement between the United Kingdom and the European Union could serve as a model for future free-trade agreements, so that all of them would follow this model.
“It will serve as the model for a new generation of free-trade agreement.”
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