On December 24, 2020, after intensive negotiations, the EU Commission had finally reached a preliminary agreement with the UK on its future cooperation with the European Union.
The negotiations lasted for nine months, and the result is a trade and cooperation agreement with 1,246 pages. The preliminary deal consists of three parts:
A Free Trade Agreement
The agreement of free trade covers trade in goods and services and a broad range of other areas in the EU’s interest like competition, investment, tax transparency, state aid, energy and sustainability, air and road transport, data protection, fisheries, and social security coordination. It has zero tariffs and zero quotas on all goods that comply with the rules of origin.
Both the UK and the EU have committed to the agreement to ensure a robust playing field through maintaining high levels of protection in sectors such as climate change, environmental protection, carbon pricing, labor rights, social rights, state aid, and tax transparency with effective and domestic enforcement—a dispute settlement mechanism that is binding and for both the UK and the EU to take needed measures to remedy the issues of the sectors.
As for the fish stocks in the EU and UK waters, both parties agreed on a new framework to have joint management of this sector. The UK will be able to develop fishing activities in Britain. In contrast, all of the livelihoods and activities of European fishing communities will be preserved, as well as its natural resources.
Meanwhile, on transport, the agreement shows that there would be a continued and sustainable air, road, rail, and maritime connectivity, even though the market access may fall below what the market will offer after the split. It also includes provisions to ensure that the competition between EU and UK operators happens on a level playing field. The workers’ rights, passenger rights, and transport safety are kept on a close watch.
The agreement gives a new model for trading and interconnectivity when it comes to energy. There are guarantees for fair and open competition, including safety standards for renewable energy production.
As for social security coordination, the new agreement wants to ensure that UK nationals and EU citizens’ numerous rights are exercised. This includes EU citizens working in the UK, traveling in the UK, or moving in the UK to the UK nationals working, traveling, and moving to the EU after January 1, 2021.
New Partnership for the Citizens’ Security
The agreement also establishes a new framework for law enforcement and judicial cooperation in criminal and civil law matters. It also recognizes the need for cooperation between the judicial authorities and national police, especially when it comes to fighting and prosecuting crime and terrorism cross-border.
Horizontal Agreement on Governance
A chapter on governance clarifies how the new agreement will be controlled and operated to provide maximum legal certainty to the consumers, citizens, and businesses. This is also to make sure that the deal is appropriately applied and interpreted correctly.
Businesses in the UK and EU compete on a level and fair playing field and avoid using autonomy to grand any unfair subsidies or any distorted competition.