Brexit deal explained – 5 things agreed by UK and EU and what it means for you

The UK said that the deal is the biggest bilateral trade deal signed by either side, covering trade worth £668 billion – but the devil is in the details


Fishing was a mjor roadblock in talks (Image: PA)

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It took 1664 days since the UK voted to leave the EU, but a post-Brexit trade deal has been agreed by negotiators after months of talks and frantic last-minute wrangling.

A UK source said the deal delivered “everything that the British public was promised during the 2016 referendum”.

But with millions of people voting for a myriad of reasons – it is fair to say that isn’t possible.

Not to mention there isn’t currently any sign of a cash injection for the NHS.

But that aside the deal contains a lot of detail in its 500+ pages.

The UK said that the deal is the biggest bilateral trade deal signed by either side, covering trade worth £668 billion.

5 key points agreed by the UK and EU

1. Tariff-free trade


Manufacturing had said it needed tariff free access to the EU (Image: Empics Entertainment)

The trade agreement between London and Brussels offers the UK and EU preferential access to each other’s markets, compared with basic World Trade Organization rules.

This mean little or no tariffs or quotas on most of the UK’s £660bn-a-year trade with the continent.

But trade still won’t be as smooth as it was when we were members of the EU. It’s not as bad as no-deal but it’s as good as being an EU member – at least in terms of tariff-free trade.

Our access to the EU market will face significant barriers after December 31, despite the fact we won’t have no-deal tariffs on our trade.

That is because businesses have to carry out customs declarations on UK-EU trade for the first time.

These so-called ‘non-tariff barrier costs’ are expected to rise by 4% to 8%, according to farmers’ bodies.

It will leave Britain facing a 4% loss of potential gross domestic product over 15 years compared with EU membership, according to the UK’s Office for Budget Responsibility.

2. Fishing

The most heated part of negotiations with the EU and the Mirror understands the final section to be wound up.

Official figures show fishing was worth £437m to the UK economy in 2019, compared to the financial services industry which was worth £126bn.

For Brexiteers, fishing was a key area where the UK would regain its sovereignty after leaving the EU.

But it is also sensitive for EU countries with big fishing industries like France and Denmark, who have pushed the EU to maintain a hard line.

EU chiefs wanted 14 years of access to British waters, while the UK wanted an immediate return to our control.

In the end , both sides agreed a five-and-a-half-year transition period before the UK has full sovereignty over its own waters. This was more than the three years long demanded by the UK in talks as a compromise.

Boris Johnson also said the UK share of fish caught in its own waters would rise from roughly half today to closer to two thirds in 2026. Originally the UK had demanded 80% of the EU’s quotas in its waters, much more than it got.

Mr Johnson said: “Compromise isn’t a dirty word – and there are unquestionably things we’ve done to help our friends and partners to move things forward.”

3. Level playing field


European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen speaks during a press statement following a phone call meeting with Britain’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson (Image: OLIVIER HOSLET/POOL/EPA-EFE/REX/Shutterstock)

The level playing field is a term for a set of common rules and standards, which prevent businesses in one country gaining an advantage over those operating in other countries.

On the level playing field, Mr Johnson said either side will be able to decide “as sovereign equals” to take action if the other side undercuts their rules – but this should only be done infrequently.

The EU, which brought enforcement action against Mr Johnson’s government over planned breaches of the Withdrawal Agreement was less charitable.

EU Chief Ursula von der Leyen said there were “strong measures” in the agreement to punish one side if they violated the terms of the deal.

In a not so coded attack on Mr Johnson, who previously threatened to break deals with the EU, she said: “From experience we’ve had we built in the safeguards to ensure that there are strong incentives for both sides to do what they agreed to”.

The deal does, however, stop short of the EU’s original demands for the UK to mirror EU laws.

Instead the PM said each side will be able “as sovereign equals” to take action if the other side undercuts their industry – but this should only be done infrequently.

The PM admitted the EU would be able to slap tariffs on UK exports and vice versa if the UK is seen to undercut EU rules.

But he insisted it would have to be “proportionate” and “subject to arbitration”.

4. Security

No-one wants the post-Brexit security relationship to be worse than it was before, but there are technical and legal constraints on what can be achieved now that the UK is outside the EU.

Because the principles of the EU single market apply to internal security and justice just as much as they do to trade, and non-members cannot have as close a relationship as members do.

Once the post-Brexit transition period ends on 31 December, the UK will be out of the single market and such close co-operation will no longer be allowed.

But both Brussels and London has insisted that the deal secures solid security and police co-operation – and they have both said it remains a priority in their relationship.

5. European Court of Justice


The deal will be voted on by MPs on December 30th (Image: AFP/Getty Images)

The EU’s top court is a major bugbear for Brexiteers, with Boris Johnson insisting that the UK would not agree to a deal which had a role for the court.

It is understood that the agreement does not have a role for the European Court of Justice, a concession by the EU who were insisting on using it to resolve disputes.

Instead, it is understood the two sides have agreed a system to sort out disputes that follows international law, rather than EU law.

What the deal means for you

Food and clothes prices

Our access to the EU market will face significant barriers after December 31, with non-tariff barrier costs expected to rise by 4% to 8%, according to farmers bodies.

The London School of Economics estimates that with a variety of other costs adding up, there’ll be a 4.7% price rise on unbranded products from the EU.

That said, as new trade deals with non-EU countries roll in, anything could happen.

This will inevitably end up being passed on to the consumer.

Your rights to live and work in the EU

From January 1, EU citizens can’t move to the UK unless they have a job offer, earn at least £20,480 (often more), speak good English and have certain skills.

In return, UK citizens must get permission to live or work in EU nations and will need a visa for most trips over 90 days.

EU nationals already living in the UK must register for “settled status” by June 30, 2021. To get settled status, you must have been living in the UK for at least five years continuously, without a break of more than six months.

If you have not been in the UK for this long, you can get “pre-settled status”. You will then have to make a second application when you reach the five-year mark to upgrade it to settled status.

If you’re a UK national in the EU, you may need to apply for residency status there before June 2021. You may also need to buy health insurance or register for healthcare.

Travel and Holidays


There are big changes for travellers (Image: Sunday Mirror)

There are some big changes and you might notice them next time you head to the continent on holiday.

You must renew your passport six months early and pay to visit the EU from 2022

You do not automatically need a new passport. Your old one remains valid even if it says the European Union on the cover. But you must renew your passport if it has less than six months to run on the day you travel.

Your passport must also be no more than 10 years old.

At the moment, UK citizens can enter Schengen Area countries with a valid passport even if they have only a day left. As a tourist, you will still be able to travel to most EU countries plus Switzerland, Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein, without a visa.

And you’ll be able to stay for up to 90 days in any rolling 180-day period.

But from 2022, UK nationals will have to pay for a visa-waiver scheme in order to visit many European countries.

You’ll also no longer be able to use EU fast-track passport control and customs lanes.

Businesses face quite a lot of disruption – and there could be delays at the border


Officials are hoping to avoid more chaos in Kent at the end of the year (Image: PA)

The Government is braced for disruption as lorries go through new checks. Disruption may not be limited to freight ports. Eurostar is asking passengers to arrive “a little earlier than usual” and “at least one hour before departure” due to new checks.

If you run a Business, there’s a lot of new paperwork

Business owners will need to make customs declarations when they import or export to and from the EU.

If you run a business, you will need an EORI number to do this.

If you don’t get one by December 31, your goods may be delayed.

Importers will also need to check what new licences and certificates they may now need. Firms will need to check the rules for importing alcohol, tobacco and certain oils.