EU, UK finally agree last minute trade deal

Brussels/London Dec 24 (efe-epa).- The European Union and the United Kingdom have agreed a trade deal, the two sides announced on Thursday, ending months of protracted negotiations.

Disagreements over future fisheries rights and rules governing business and trade had stood in the way of the EU and UK formalizing their post-Brexit relationship.

“We have finally found an agreement,” European Commission president Ursula Von der Leyen said at a press conference confirming the agreement just days before the transition period ended on 31 December.

“It was a long and winding road but we have got a good deal to show for it. It is fair, it is a balanced deal, and it is the right and responsible thing to do for both sides.”

Von der Leyen said the deal would “protect our EU interests, ensure fair competition and provide predictability for our fishing communities.”

“Europe is now moving on.”

Von der Leyen bade farewell to the EU’s “friends in the UK”, borrowing a line from Shakespeare: “Parting is such sweet sorrow.”

“To all Europeans I say: It is time to leave Brexit behind. Our future is made in Europe.”

Michel Barnier, who led the EU’s negotiating team and joined Von der Leyen at the press conference, said: “Today is a day of relief.”

“The UK has chosen to leave the EU and its single market, to renounce the rights of a member state. Our agreement does not replicate those rights and advantages,” he said.

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