Prime Minister pays tribute to EU unity and solidarity in securing Brexit deal
Council of Ministers – Brexit – Implementation of the agreement between the European Union and the United Kingdom – Statement
Paris, 6 January 2021
The Prime Minister made a statement on the implementation of the trade and partnership agreement between the European Union and the United Kingdom signed on 30 December 2020.
After nearly 10 months of intense negotiations, on 24 December 2020 the European and British negotiators reached an agreement on future relations between the European Union and the United Kingdom. It was signed on 30 December by the President of the [European] Commission and the President of the European Council on the one hand, and the British Prime Minister on the other. It comprises three texts: a trade and cooperation agreement, a civil nuclear cooperation agreement and an agreement on procedures for exchanging classified information.
Given the late completion of the negotiations, since 1 January 2021 these agreements have been implemented provisionally to begin with, and will be approved by the European Parliament and adopted by the Council of the European Union only once they have been translated into all of the European Union’s languages.
The completion of these unprecedented negotiations aimed at organizing the exit of a European Union Member State was facilitated by the Member States’ unity and solidarity in support of the European negotiator, M. Michel Barnier, to defend the European Union’s interests.
This solidarity is also an essential asset which must be preserved for the next part of the process concerned with actually implementing the commitments made. The Europeans come out of these negotiations conscious of their strength, especially since the COVID-19 pandemic at the same time increased their solidarity economically and in terms of health. In the coming months, the European Union will have to ensure that the measures to implement the agreement are as robust and precise as possible. The European Union must therefore be able to react swiftly and in accordance with its interests should disagreements arise, particularly on fair competition conditions and fisheries.
Thanks to the 2019 withdrawal agreement, the fundamental interests have not been challenged (regarding peace in Ireland, European citizens’ rights and financial regulation).
The agreement signed on 30 December enables the cost of separation to be mitigated: in the field of goods trade and transport, in the security field to maintain a level of police and judicial cooperation in the interest of all citizens, and, of course, in the field of fisheries. In addition, the European Union has been able to strictly frame the scope of partnership in other areas like financial services, and to guarantee respect for fair competition conditions, particularly in the areas of State aid, of health, environmental and social standards, and of rules of origin. Even though the no-deal scenario was anticipated and prepared for, the cost of a no-deal would have been much greater for all economic stakeholders, starting with fishermen, who would have had to undergo the closure of British waters.
The United Kingdom’s situation is now clear: as it is no longer a member of the European Union, it no longer enjoys its benefits. It thus returns to a system of customs, health and phytosanitary declarations and checks at the EU’s borders. Economic operators may request exemptions from customs duties, but on condition that they observe the rules on the origin of goods. The UK no longer enjoys the free movement of services or freedom of establishment. There is no longer any automatic recognition of qualifications. Finally, the UK no longer enjoys the free movement of people. British and European people will no longer be able to travel, study or work freely, as they could when the UK was in the EU. However, the EU and the UK have decided on visa exemptions for short visits of up to 90 days. Travellers will be subject to the customs and veterinary rules applicable to third countries.
The agreement lays the foundations for a new and ambitious relationship between the European Union and the United Kingdom. Indeed, it is the most advanced trade agreement between the European Union and a third country. Following its withdrawal from the European Union, the UK also remains a major partner of both the European Union and France, particularly in terms of diplomacy, defence and security./.