UK, EU on cusp of striking Brexit trade deal at last
BRUSSELS (AP) — Negotiators from the European Union and Britain worked through the night and right into Christmas Eve to put the finishing touches on a trade deal that should avert a chaotic economic break between the two sides on New Year’s Day.
After resolving the remaining fair-competition and almost all fisheries issues on Wednesday, negotiators combed through hundreds of pages of legal text that should become the blueprint for a post-Brexit relationship.
As during much of the nine-month negotiations, the issue of EU fleets in British waters proved the most intractable and divisive, with negotiators still haggling over quotas for some individual species as dawn came.
Still, sources on both sides said the long and difficult negotiations were on the cusp of being wrapped up as negotiators, holed up at EU headquarters in Brussels with a stack of pizzas, worked to deliver the text to their leaders on Thursday.
Everyone awaited early morning appearances by Prime Minister Boris Johnson and EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen to announce the deal. The agreement then goes to the 27 EU nations seeking unanimous approval, as well as the blessing of the EU and British parliaments.
Despite the breakthrough, key aspects of the future relationship between the 27-nation bloc and its former member remain uncertain. But it leaves the mutually dependent but often fractious U.K.-EU relationship on a much more solid footing than a disruptive no-deal split.
Johnson will now claim to have delivered on the promise that won him a resounding election victory a year ago: “Get Brexit Done.”
Even with a deal, trade between Britain and the EU will face customs checks and some other barriers on Jan. 1, when the U.K. leaves the bloc’s single market and customs union. A trade...