Business & Economy

EU starts new era with London, turns focus to US, China

Dani Rovirosa

Brussels, Jan 2 (efe-epa).- Having finally reached an agreement with the United Kingdom and concluded negotiations on an investment treaty with China, the European Union met its two main trade objectives for 2020 and begins the year ready to strengthen ties with the United States after the turbulent Donald Trump years.

Since it came into force provisionally on Friday, the agreement between Brussels and London has achieved its main purpose: averting economic disaster on both sides of the English Channel and allowing the two blocks to maintain vital trade links built over nearly five decades, although the true impacts of Brexit have yet to be felt.

To counteract them, the EU has signed its most ambitious trade agreement ever with the United Kingdom, a deal that will maintain trade without quotas or tariffs, which in 2019 reached a volume of almost 320 billion euros in exports and more than 194 billion in imports, according to Eurostat.

But in 2021, the United Kingdom abandons the internal market and the customs union, which will inevitably result in more bureaucracy for companies who must now fill out tax and customs declarations, increasing the time and cost of the exchanges.

“We can finally leave Brexit behind and the EU can move forward,” said the President of the European Commission (EC), Ursula Von der Leyen, when she announced the agreement.

However, the truth is that from now on Brussels will have to make sure that the United Kingdom complies with the commitments made, especially in terms of fair competition, and if it does not, it may impose tariffs on some products as a compensatory measure — a course of action that will also be available to the British government.

Fishing will be another politically sensitive issue. The EC has accepted a 25 percent cut in European catches in British waters for a transitional period of five and a half years, after which fishing quotas must be negotiated annually.


While the agreement on Brexit is the consequence of something that the EU did not want, Brussels has on the other hand looked to advance and deepen its ties with China — the world’s second largest economy — forced in part by the insolence and posturing of the outgoing US president Donald Trump.

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