Brexit Trade Pact enters into force | Free press

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Brussels (dpa) – The European Union’s Brexit trade pact with Great Britain went into effect on May 1. Almost five years after the British decided to leave the EU, the legal basis for the new relationship between the two parties is finally in place.

In practice, hardly anything changes, because the contract has been provisionally applied since the beginning of the year.

Both sides agreed on TCA’s trade and partnership agreement on Christmas Eve 2020 – just a week before Britain left the EU’s internal market and customs union. It was quickly ratified in London, but the EU Parliament did not have the time. Only this week did the MPs approve the contract with a very large majority.

The main point of the contract, which is over 1000 pages long, is generally duty free and unrestricted trade of goods in both directions. However, there are still customs formalities and controls. Fisheries and cooperation in energy, transport, justice, police and many other subjects are also regulated.

In June 2016, British voters voted in a referendum to leave the EU. This was formally completed on January 31, 2020. However, there was a transition period until December 31, 2020, during which Great Britain remained in the internal market and in the customs union. Deep changes in daily life did not come until January 1, 2021. Trade, among other things, collapsed drastically at the beginning of the year.

This week, both sides confirmed hopes for a new beginning of their partnership. British Prime Minister Boris Johnson spoke of a new “relationship with the EU as important trading partners, closest allies and sovereign equals”. Charles Michel, President of the EU Council, called the UK an important friend and partner.

Relationships are tense, however. So there was a bitter dispute recently over Astrazeneca’s corona vaccine. In addition, the EU accused Britain of violating the treaty because special rules for British Northern Ireland would not be implemented in the already-valid withdrawal agreement.

Unlike the rest of the UK, the rules of the EU’s internal market and customs union continue to apply there. This should make border checks to EU member Ireland in the south of the island unnecessary. But now a goods border with controls separates Northern Ireland from the rest of the UK, leading to friction losses and delivery problems.

Above all, the Protestant supporters of the Union are dissatisfied with Great Britain. In recent weeks there have been conflicts with predominantly Catholic supporters of an Irish association and riots in the former troubled province. Brussels and London are negotiating the details of the special rules to defuse the conflict, but so far without a concrete solution.

Pressure from their own party this week forced Northern Ireland’s Prime Minister Arlene Foster of the protestant-loyalist DUP to announce her resignation. The succession is watched with tension. The Northern Ireland government is always made up of the two strongest parties from both denominational camps. The two party leaders are considered an equal leadership duo of the government. The Vice Head of Government is currently Michelle O’Neill of the Catholic Republican Sinn Fein.