After announcing the deal chief EU negotiator Michel Barnier said: “Today is a day of relief. But tinged with some sadness.As we compare what came before, with what lies ahead.”
Europe Commission chief Ursula Von der Leyen said: “It was worth fighting for this deal. We now have a fair & balanced agreement with the UK. It will protect our EU interests, ensure fair competition & provide predictability for our fishing communities.
“Europe is now moving on,” she added.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson tweeted: “The deal is done.”
Johnson, who promised the British public he would “get Brexit done”, also posted a photograph of himself celebrating in front of the Union Jack flag.
The deal has been sealed just seven days before Britain exits the EU and one of the world’s biggest trade blocs.
It was worth fighting for this deal.
We now have a fair & balanced agreement with the UK. It will protect our EU interests, ensure fair competition & provide predictability for our fishing communities.
Europe is now moving on. https://t.co/77jrNknlu3
— Ursula von der Leyen (@vonderleyen) December 24, 2020
“Deal is done,” a Downing Street source told Reuters. “We have taken back control of our money, borders, laws, trade and our fishing waters…
“We have delivered this great deal for the entire United Kingdom in record time, and under extremely challenging conditions … all of our key red lines about returning sovereignty have been achieved.”
The UK's International Trade Secretary Liz Truss said separately the deal would lead to a “strong trading relationship” with Brussels and other partners around the world.
The deal had been all set to go ahead earlier on Thursday, but last minute haggling over fishing created a delay.
The UK formally left the EU on January 31 2020, but has since been in a transition period, during which rules on trade, travel and business would be discussed. So far, these things have remained unchanged, but the new Brexit deals will come into effect on January 1 2021.
No Erasmus, no freedom of movement
Chief negotiator Barnier said there were two important areas of regret for Europe, notably around the UK's decision to end freedom of movement and the its refusal to continue its participation in the Erasmus student exchange scheme.
“I am simply expressing two regrets about this societal cooperation, he said.
“That the British government chose not to participate in the Erasmus exchange program; That the ambition in terms of citizen mobility does not match our historical ties.
“And again, it is the choice of the British government.”