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Sabtu, 26 Desember 2020

Britain and EU unveil text of Brexit trade deal as UK calls for end to 'ugly' divisions - ABC News

Britain has published the text of its narrow trade agreement with the European Union, just five days before it exits one of the world's biggest trading blocs in its most significant global shift since the loss of empire.

EU ambassadors and politicians on both sides of the English Channel will now pore over the "EU-UK Trade and Cooperation Agreement," which contains over 1,246 pages of text.

EU envoys are expected to meet on Monday to discuss the document, drawn up over nine intense months of talks.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson cast the deal as the final implementation of the will of the British people, who voted 52-48 per cent for Brexit in a 2016 referendum.

The referendum exposed a United Kingdom divided about much more than the European Union, and has fuelled soul-searching about everything from secession and immigration to capitalism, empire and modern Britishness.

Michael Gove, a senior British minister who campaigned alongside Mr Johnson to leave the EU, said the deal would allow Britain to put some of the divisions of the nearly five-year Brexit crisis behind it.

"We can develop a new pattern of friendly cooperation with the EU, a special relationship if you will, between sovereign equals."

The deal as it stands ensures that Britain can continue to trade in goods with the world's biggest trading bloc without tariffs or quotas after the UK breaks fully free of the EU.

It ceased to be an official member on January 31 this year and is days away from the end of an exit transition period.

But other barriers will be raised, as the UK loses access to a huge market that only EU membership can guarantee.

Those losses range from access to fishing waters to energy markets, and everyday travel arrangements and education exchanges important to many British citizens.

EU member countries are expected to endorse the agreement over the course of next week.

British legislators could vote on it on Wednesday.

But even if they do approve it, the text would only enter force provisionally on New Year's Day as the European Parliament must also have its say.

EU lawmakers said last weekend that there simply wasn't enough time to properly scrutinise the text before the deadline, and they will debate and vote on the document in January and February if the approval process runs smoothly.

Despite the deal, unanswered questions linger in many areas, including security cooperation — with the UK set to lose access to real-time information in some EU law enforcement databases — and access to the EU market for Britain's huge financial services sector.

AP/Reuters

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2020-12-26 13:48:00Z
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