Relief but sadness from Brussels

Barnier: European unity is its strength

  1. Barnier

    Michel Barnier says the deal will now be put to the European Council, bringing together the 27 governments of the bloc, and the European Parliament.

    He says the "short time span" of negotiating the deal has been "unprecedented in terms of its scope and complexity".

    And he says the EU has shown "unity and solidarity", which has been its strength.

    "It has been a great honour for me to be part of this European unity," he concludes.Notice the tone and the vocabulary of the news conference at the European Commission.

    It is markedly different from what we can expect from the prime minister.

    There is talk in Brussels of "relief" but "sadness."

    This, until now, was the club people only ever wanted to join, not to leave.

    The UK, always the awkward uncle at the European Christmas party, has noisily wandered out, returning to collect its possessions a few times, but is now properly leaving the premises.

    This is that moment, and it will prompt delight for millions here in the UK, and a resigned sadness from millions of others.

    But the mood in EU circles is a mighty relief all the talking is over, but a sadness that the UK has gone.

  2. Barnier: 'The clock is no longer ticking'


    Now the EU chief negotiator, Michel Barnier, is speaking.

    He says: "The clock is no longer ticking."

    Mr Barnier pays tribute to all the politicians, citizens and even us journalists for the part they played in negotiations.

    He then adds: "Today is a day of relief, but tinged by some sadness as we compare what came before with what lies ahead."UK and EU 'are long-standing allies' - von der Leyen

    "We are long standing allies," says von der Leyen

    "We share the same interests - whether it be the COP26 summit in Glasgow of the upcoming UK G7 and Italian G20 presidencies.

    She says the UK and EU will continue to stand "shoulder to shoulder"

    1. Von der Leyen: Sovereignty is about pulling each other up

      von der Leyen

      European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen says: "This whole debate has always been about sovereignty.

      "We should ask as ourselves what sovereignty means in the 21st century.

      "It is about pooling our strength and speaking together in a world full of great powers.

      "It is about pulling each other up in times of crisis instead of trying to get back to your feet alone.

      "And the EU shows how this can work in practice."

    2. Von der Leyen: 'Achieve more together than apart'

      The European Commission president starts to outline more detail of the plan.

      Mrs Von der Leyen says competition rules "will be fair and remain so", promising EU rules and standards "will be respected".

      She says "effective tools" have been agreed to "react if fair competition is distorted".

      The UK and EU will "continue cooperating in all areas of mutual interest", she adds, such as climate change, energy, security and transport.

      And she confirms five and a half years of "full predictability for fishing communities" has been agreed.

      "Together we still achieve more than we do apart."

    3. Von der Leyen: 'A good deal to show for it'

      Ursula von der Leyen

      Mrs Von der Leyen says: "We have finally found an agreement

      "It was a long and winding road, but we have got a good deal to show for it."

      She adds that it is "fair" and "balanced", and it was "right and responsible" for the two sides to pursue it.

    4. Expect plenty of political spin

      Chris Morris

      BBC Reality Check

      We knew there were last minute haggles about fish quotas and stocks. I think both sides desperately wanted to finish that off today and they have done.

      We have a statement from Downing Street saying that everything the British public was promised during the 2016 referendum and last year’s general election is delivered by this deal.

      We haven’t seen the text of the deal, we know it’s going to be hundreds and hundreds of pages long and there will be a lot of devil stuck in the detail but what we’re going to see I think over the next few hours is plenty of political spin coming out saying this is what we’ve achieved.

      Certainly on the other side of the Channel, French and Dutch media have been told by officials on that side that the British have given in on a lot. That’s to be expected.

      I think what we need to do is look at the detail of what’s in the deal.

    5. BREAKINGVon der Leyen begins press conference

      The first of the press conferences has begun, and it is the EU up first.

      European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen is joined at the podium with the bloc's chief negotiator Michel Barnier.

    6. No more delays - a deal is done

      Chris Mason

      Political Correspondent

      How fitting that this final chapter should meander on for so long.

      Santa is airborne and sprouts are being peeled.

      But finally – after four and a half years – a deal is done and news conferences to announce it are about to happen.

      Yes, really – no more delays.

      We’ve waited for hours, weeks, months, years – now, finally, the shape of our relationship with our nearest neighbours is about to be set out.

    7. Von der Leyen and Barnier to hold press conference

      EU Commission spokesperson Daniel Ferrie says European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and the EU's chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier will hold a press conference in a few minutes.

    8. BREAKING'Deal is fantastic news,' says No 10

      Here is the government's statement: "Everything that the British public was promised during the 2016 referendum and in the general election last year is delivered by this deal."

      "We have taken back control of our money, borders, laws, trade and our fishing waters

      "The deal is fantastic news for families and businesses in every part of the UK.

      "We have signed the first free trade agreement based on zero tariffs and zero quotas that has ever been achieved with the EU.

      "The deal is the biggest bilateral trade deal signed by either side, covering trade worth £668bn in 2019.

      "The deal also guarantees that we are no longer in the lunar pull of the EU, we are not bound by EU rules, there is no role for the European Court of Justice and all of our key red lines about returning sovereignty have been achieved.

      "It means that we will have full political and economic independence on 1st January 2021."

      "A points-based immigration system will put us in full control of who enters the UK and free movement will end.

      "We have delivered this great deal for the entire United Kingdom in record time, and under extremely challenging conditions, which protects the integrity of our internal market and Northern Ireland’s place within it.

      "We have got Brexit done and we can now take full advantage of the fantastic opportunities available to us as an independent trading nation, striking trade deals with other partners around the world."

    9. EU ambassadors 'not meeting today'

      With negotiations ongoing, ambassadors from the European Union member states will not be meeting today, Sebastian Fischer, a spokesman for the German presidency of the Council of the EU has said.

      But our Europe correspondent Gavin Lee says we're still expecting a trade deal will be confirmed later.

    10. 'A great Christmas present' - Conservative MP

      Andrew Bridgen

      Conservative MP for North West Leicestershire Andrew Bridgen says he will be "looking to ensure the PM hasn't crossed any red lines - that we are taking back full control of our laws, borders and money."

      "If Boris has managed to pull off this deal in record time, that will be a great Christmas present for all the UK."

      However he adds "the devil will be in the detail" and the staunch Brexiteer MP says he won't commit his full support until he has read the agreement.

      Bridgen suggests that both sides should put the deal in place but allow the parliaments to scrutinise it afterwards "so we're not rushed into agreeing terms on a 2000+ page document".

      “People need to realise a treaty of this sort is not just for Christmas.”

    11. Both sides seem confident

      Katya Adler

      Europe Editor

      The negotiators who are right here in Brussels finishing off this deal stayed awake throughout the night, really haggling over the last details on fish.

      You may remember last month, we just kept saying over and over again there were three outstanding issues:

      Competition regulations - the EU saying there needs to be what it calls fair competition rules in order to give the UK tariff and quota free access to its single market.

      The governance of the deal - so if either side, and break their word on this deal what could happen.

      Then the third issue is fish - and that is where we are today.

      And don't forget, it's not just a negotiation between the EU and the UK, but also between EU member states as well.

      We wait to see the details, but essentially Prime Minister Boris Johnson needs to say that he has kept post Brexit sovereignty and the EU need to say that it has been able to protect its single market and both sides seem confident of that.

    12. This is nearly the milestone

      Laura Kuenssberg

      Political editor

      On both sides there is a very strong degree of confidence that today is finally the day.

      And as far as Downing Street is concerned, the prime minister will be able to proclaim that he has done a free trade deal with the EU, and he has been able to fulfil the promises he made in his manifesto at the election that the UK will have control over its money, its border its laws and its fishing waters.

      We expect that the deal will include an agreement that there shouldn't be quotas or tariffs, for the two sides to do business relatively freely.

      But until we see the full text and been able to digest all of it - about 2000 pages, a real encyclopaedia of technical and legal detail - it is going to be hard to work out precisely who the winners and losers are in all of this.

      But this is nearly the milestone that marks the end of what has been a really frantic period in political terms.

      It's gone on for a very, very long time, but concluding such an enormous trade deal on the scale of this affecting hundreds, billions of pounds a year is really quite some feat.

      Maybe no surprise then, there are a few niggles at the last hurdle.

    13. Happy, sad, worried... how do 5 live callers feel today?

      BBC Radio 5 Live

      BBC Radio 5 live took calls from listeners this morning. Here is a brief flavour of what they said.

      Paul from Brighton is feeling positive. He is a business owner and says "the EU didn't do me any favours" adding: "We had to abide by all their rules."

      Vivien from Edinburgh said she is worried the UK "will still lose freedom of movement. A right I have made use of for 20 years is being removed from our children and grandchildren. For bar staff, chalet workers, musicians, actors and retirees the loss of huge."

      Lorry driver Annette from Cheshire feels "quite happy". She argued that foreign drivers subject to less rigorous checks have been able to undercut British drivers in recent years.

      Chris from Anglesey said he is "sad that we are leaving a fantastic community of friends and neighbours".

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