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Brexit ‘thin’ deal announcement expected today; fisheries compromise reached

Elected European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen.

UK Prime Miinister Boris Johnson is expected to announce a Brexit trade deal today (Thursday), the Financial Times reported.

Negotiators worked through the night to complete the legal text which is expected to provide agreements on no-tariff trade between the UK and the EU, as well as agreements on state aid,  and other critical issues. Agreement on fishing rights in UK waters, the issue that eluded agreement for months, has now been reached, according to the report.

According to the report, the path to a deal opened up after Ursula von der Leyen, commission president, and  Johnson took personal control of the negotiations this week, with fishing access the last major sticking point.  It will also cover issues such as police and security co-operation and preserve the cross-border energy market, but it will do little for the services sector.

Many observers describe the deal as ‘thin,’ because many issues remain unresolved, but it will prevent a no-deal exit from the EU by the UK which would have cost billions to industry on both sides of the Channel. But the deal will still demand immense paperwork on both sides and there will be chaos at the borders for some time. With the UK no longer in the customs union or single market, much will have to be done .

According to the FT report, the deal includes a transition period of five-and-a-half years during which EU boats will have guaranteed access to UK fishing waters. The EU’s fishing rights will be reduced by 25 per cent compared with previous access, with the knock-on effect of boosting how much British boats can catch. British officials say the deal is expected to see Britain’s share of the catch in its own waters increase from around a half today to about two-thirds during the transition. Access to waters after the transition period expires — around the tenth anniversary of the June 2016 Brexit vote — will depend on regular negotiations.

The UK Parliament will vote in an emergency session to approve the treaty this week. The European Parliament will not vote on it until next year, but the European Commission will be able to give the treaty temporary working status until then.

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