Despite the announcement of an official agreement between the UK government and the European Union on the 24th December, there are still some unresolved issues which will lead to ongoing negotiations.
Michael Barnier, the European’s Commission Head of Task Force for Relations with the UK, stated that the deal offered “a little stability”. However, Mr Barnier also expressed that there is “nothing to celebrate about divorce”, especially as further talks will be necessary.
The downsides of the Brexit deal
Level-playing is one of the main issues that has caused delayed negotiations, although there is a deal in place which offers freedom for the UK without EU restrictions. However, the EU bloc can impose additional tariffs if Britain showcases an unfair business advantage and leaves the discussion regarding levies left open for discussion. This restricts the UK government’s intentions to “take back control”.
The deal also features a review clause which enables both parties to re-negotiate that could lead to a collapse of the current agreement.
There is also the backlash regarding the fisheries deal, which has been described as “difficult to bridge” during negotiations. The current agreement states that the UK’s fishing fleet will receive 25% of EU boats’ fishing rights, which has faced backlash from fishermen in the EU and the UK. This includes Scottish fishermen, as only five of thirteen fishing locations in Scotland will experience a quota increase. The Scottish Cabinet Secretary, Fergus Ewing described this as “deeply troubling” as it “threatens to harm onshore jobs and businesses too linked to harbours, fish markets and processing facilities.”
The EU-UK Future Relationship
The EU Future Relationship Bill includes the Trade and Cooperation Agreement (TOA), the Nuclear Cooperation Agreement (NCA), and the Agreement on Security Procedures for Exchanging and Protecting Classified Information. This will be up for parliamentary discussion today with a vote expected to be in favour of the deal, despite opposition from the Liberal Democrats, the SNP, the DUP, the SDLP, Plaid Cymru and the Alliance.
The Prime Minister described the deal as a “historic resolution” with the aim of becoming “the best friend and ally the EU could ask for.”
Boris Johnson has urged MPs to back the deal, despite objections from Labour leader Keir Starmer who described it as a “thin” agreement due to the lack of job protection, workers’ rights and environmental resolutions. However, the Conservative Party appears to have great confidence in the deal.
Once the parliamentary vote has been determined, the bill will be signed by the European Commission President, Ursula Von der Leyen and the European Council President, Charles Michel. The debate will then be extended to the House of Lords where a decision will be made by the end of the day, and if agreed, it will then be sent to the Queen to receive Royal Assent and become an official Act of Parliament. If any amendments are required, the bill will go through the process of “ping pong” between the House of Lords and commons before a final agreement is made.
While the bill will become an official law, this does not mean that amendments cannot be made in the future. There is also yet to be a deal made with Gibraltar, which could lead to commuter delays and economic issues. The data protection agreement is also only temporary. Therefore, a resolution will need to be arranged in six months to ensure data is protected and flows freely between the EU and the UK.
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