Instant Library - Oct-Dec 2020
UK / Belgium / France / Gibraltar - Brexit
Story No.: G13421
Date: 12/30/2020 12:00 AM
GVs of EU buildings as Brexit stalemate remains
Brussels - 08 December 2020
1. Close of front of the European Commission logo
2. Wide of Christmas trees for sale in front of the European Commission
UK PM arrives at ambassador residence in Brussels
Brussels - 9 December 2020
3. Various of U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson arriving at the residence of the U.K. ambassador to Belgium ahead of Brexit talks with European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen
French fishermen anxious over no-deal Brexit
Boulogne-Sur-Mer - 10 December 2020
4. French fishing boat L'Ophelea arriving into Boulogne port after fishing overnight
5. Shellfish catch - whelk or sea snails- being unloaded from the boat
6. Fish and fishmongers
Lorries in long queues at Dover ahead of Brexit
Dover - 12 December 2020
7. Various of queues of lorries heading to Dover port
8. Dover port from the cliffs
Tensions high in Dover as some vehicles start move
Dover - 23 December 2020
9. Man confronts police officer in front of lorry
10. Row of police formed in front of lorry
Scuffles as police try to clear route for testing in Dover
Dover - 23 December 2020
11. Wide of man being removed from road by police officers
12. People demonstrating, one man stepping in front of bus
13. Police officers in front of road sign reading (English) "Return to vehicles, testing to commence"
Frost in Brussels on cusp of striking Brexit trade deal
Brussels - 24 December 2020
14. The UK's chief Brexit negotiator leaving the UK mission getting into car to go to the EU Commission, car leaving
Gibraltar’s post-Brexit border with Spain in limbo
Gibraltar - 22 December 2020
15. Workers crossing border into Gibraltar from Spain
16. Spanish worker Oscar Aguilera entering Gibraltar
Gibraltar - 19 December 2020
17. Various of people walking in town, at cafe
Johnson signs post Brexit trade deal
London - 30 December 2020
18. UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson signing trade deal, UPSOUND (English) Boris Johnson: " Here it is folks, this is it. And I know the question you will all be asking yourselves is, have I read it? The answer is yes. And it's an excellent deal for this country. But also, for our friends and partners. "
Britain and the European Union warned December 8th that talks on a post-Brexit free-trade deal are teetering on the brink of collapse, with just over three weeks until an economic rupture that will cause upheaval for businesses on both sides of the English Channel.
Officials downplayed the chances of a breakthrough when Prime Minister Boris Johnson heads to Brussels for face-to-face talks with European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen in the next few days.
With negotiators deadlocked on key issues after months of tense talks, German European Affairs Minister Michael Roth said the bloc’s confidence in Britain was hanging in the balance.
Johnson’s Downing Street office said the situation was “very tricky” and collapse of the talks was a distinct possibility.
Johnson and von der Leyen, head of the EU’s executive arm, spoke by phone December 7th for the second time in 48 hours.
They said afterwards that “significant differences” remained on three key issues - fishing rights, fair-competition rules and the governance of future disputes - and “the conditions for finalizing an agreement are not there.”
The two leaders said in the joint statement that they planned to discuss the remaining differences “in a physical meeting in Brussels in the coming days.”
Leaders of the EU's 27 nations are holding a two-day summit in Brussels starting Thursday.
U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson arrived in Brussels on December 9th, ahead of crunch Brexit trade talks with European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen in the evening.
The leaders of Britain and the European Union will meet for a dinner that could pave the way to a post-Brexit trade deal - or tip the two sides toward a chaotic economic rupture at the end of the month.
They have just a few hours over a multi-course meal to unstick negotiations that are deadlocked on key aspects of the future relationship for the EU and Britain.
The U.K. left the EU on Jan. 31st after 47 years of membership, but remains within the blocâ€™s tariff-free single market and customs union until the end of the year.
Reaching a trade deal by then would ensure there are no tariffs or quotas on trade in goods on Jan. 1st, although there would still be new costs and red tape for businesses.
Failure to secure a trade deal would mean tariffs and other barriers that would hurt both sides, although most economists think the British economy would take a greater hit because the U.K. does almost half of its trade with the bloc.
As Brexit talks enter their decisive final days, there's still a big catch: the fishing industry.
It is holding up the trade deal between the European Union and recently departed Britain, putting at risk hundreds of thousands of jobs and tens of billions of euros in annual production losses.
French fishermen are anxious about a looming no-deal Brexit, following months of talks by negotiators seeking to cobble together a trade deal in the wake of their Brexit divorce.
While French and other European fishermen currently take much of their catch in UK waters, a no-deal Brexit could end or significantly limit that.
Twenty-eight year old fisherman Mathieu Pinto is concerned about the prospects of a no-deal Brexit.
Docking his boat, L'Ophelea, in the French port of Boulogne-Sur-Mer after a night of fishing sea-snails or whelk, Pinto said that the vast majority of his catch comes from British waters and there will be a "huge impact" on his business.
Pinto believes the consequences of the end of the current fishing policies would mean war amongst European boats fishing across the same coastal waters in France.
There is essentially not enough to go around, he said.
Pinto talks with other fishermen here in Boulogne and he says they are all just as scared as he is.
He says he is not yet ready to sell his boat but as someone who learned the trade handed down through his family, he is quickly losing his passion.
As well as France, the Netherlands, Belgium, Ireland and Denmark are among those directly implicated by the potential closing off of UK waters.
Brussels has proposed a 12-month period for continued reciprocal access to fishing waters but Britain has suggested this could be rejected.
For centuries, foreign fishermen shared the plentiful waters off Britain, and it has been no different since the UK joined the EU in 1973.
But as catches dwindled, sometimes to a fraction of their previous numbers because of ruthless overexploitation, the number of British fishermen has dwindled from 22,000 in 1975 to 12,000 in 2018.
Rightly or wrongly, EU trawlers venturing freely in UK waters came to be seen as a symbol of plunder and exploitation.
When Britain voted to leave, saving UK waters for UK fishermen became a rallying cry.
In an ideal scenario, British fishermen would have all the waters to themselves, able to expand what so long has been a diminishing industry but it's not that simple.
The EU came into the trade negotiations demanding that its boats continue being allowed to fish.
Even though Brexit left the bloc in a much weaker position, UK exports gave it leverage.
Some 80% of fish landed in the UK is exported, and three-quarters of that goes to the EU.
If the continent closes off its markets, fish would be left rotting on British quays.
The debate during the final days centers on how the issues of fishing rights for EU trawlers could be reconciled with low or no tariffs for UK exports through fish-processing hubs like Boulogne-sur-Mer.
Lorries travelling to the UK port of Dover were stuck in traffic jams that stretched back several kilometres on December 12th.
The queues built up even though it's three weeks before Britain leaves the European Union.
Logistics companies have reported a surge in demand for imports ahead of a potential no-deal Brexit.
The British government has warned that even with a deal, there could be queues as long as 100 kilometres if companies don't prepare the new paperwork.
Tensions were high in Dover on December 23rd as thousands of drivers remained stranded at the UK port.
Police were confronted by frustrated drivers in the road leading to the ferries, before backing away from the crowd.
People ran to return to their vehicles after officers signalled to move the traffic towards the port.
Many have been stuck in Dover for three days now after France banned travel from the UK on Sunday following news of a new variant of coronavirus spreading across south east England.
A deal was reached between the two countries to resume travel on December 23rd, as long as travellers showed a negative COVID test result from within the last 72 hours.
British Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick said around 4,000 trucks may be waiting in the county of Kent to cross the Channel and urged other truckers not to head there until the backlog is cleared.
It will take “a few days” to test all the drivers before they can travel to France, he said.
Scuffles broke out at the UK's Dover Port on December 23rd when police attempted to clear a route for health workers to arrive as efforts to clear a backlog of stranded drivers continued.
A police escort led in a group of cars carrying National Health Service test and trace workers and people were instructed to return to their vehicles as testing was about to commence.
However, some drivers who were stranded at the port were protesting by blocking vehicles from leaving the port.
A man was removed by police officers when he laid down in front of a truck.
Another protester attempted to stop a bus of port workers from entering.
Gridlock at the English port had kept thousands of truckers and travellers stranded on Wednesday despite a deal with France to lift a two-day blockade imposed because of a new variant of the coronavirus that had isolated Britain and raised fears of food shortages.
Nations around the world began barring people from Britain over the weekend after Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced that scientists said a new version of the virus whipping around London and England's southeast may be more contagious.
Britain's Brexit negotiator David Frost left the UK Mission in Brussels to go to the EU Commission on December 24th, as the two sides appeared to be on the cusp of striking a trade deal.
Negotiators from the European Union and Britain worked through the night and right into Christmas Eve to put the finishing touches on a trade deal that should avert a chaotic economic break between the two sides on New Year's Day.
After resolving the remaining fair-competition and almost all fisheries issues on December 23rd, negotiators combed through hundreds of pages of legal text that should become the blueprint for a post-Brexit relationship.
As during much of the nine-month negotiations, the issue of EU fleets in British waters proved the most intractable and divisive, with negotiators still haggling over quotas for some individual species as dawn came.
Still, sources on both sides said the long and difficult negotiations were on the cusp of being wrapped up as negotiators, holed up at EU headquarters in Brussels with a stack of pizzas, worked to deliver the text to their leaders on Thursday.
While corks may have popped in London and Brussels over reaching the relative certainty of a post-Brexit trade deal after years of delays and negotiations, there was one rocky speck of British soil still left in limbo.
Gibraltar, known colloquially as The Rock, is a UK colony jutting off the southern tip of Spain's mainland.
But it was not included in the agreement announced on Christmas Eve between the European Union and the UK to reorganise commercial and trade relations between the now 27-member bloc and the first nation to exit the group
The deadline for Gibraltar remains January 1st, when a transitionary period regulating the short frontier between Gibraltar and Spain expires.
If no deal is reached, there are serious concerns that a hard border would cause disruption for the workers, tourists and major business connections across the two sides.
More than 15,000 people live in Spain and work in Gibraltar, making up about 50% of Gibraltar's labour force, and their cross-border journeys help make up the 30 million annual crossings.
Oscar Aguilera is a 40-year-old resident of La Linea De La Concepcion, the Spanish town that borders Gibraltar.
Every day, he crosses the frontier to work for a cleaning company based on The Rock.
Aguilera says he relies heavily on a fluid border for his daily work commute and worries about what will happen if there is no deal.
The Rock was ceded to the UK in 1713, and for three centuries, the strategic outcrop of high terrain has given its navy command of the narrow seaway linking the Mediterranean to the Atlantic Ocean.
Spain, however, has never dropped its claim to sovereignty over it and throughout the Brexit talks, it insisted it wants a say on the future of Gibraltar.
It succeeded in convincing the EU to separate the issue of Gibraltar from the wider Brexit negotiations, meaning that Madrid is handling all talks directly with its counterparts in Gibraltar and London.
The Spanish foreign ministry has warned that if an agreement is not reached before 1 January, the long lines of stranded truck drivers seen at the English Channel crossing could be repeated.
On Monday Spain's foreign minister Arancha Gonzalez Laya reiterated that her government wants to reach a deal, adding that "there's no plan B", and that "either there's a deal with the United Kingdom or there's a hard border."
Lorenzo Pérez-Periañez, who represents the La Linea Association of Small and Medium enterprises, has no doubt that a hard border would be devastating for the economies of both Gibraltar and Spain.
But he is keen to stress that it's not all about the financial impact, as border restrictions will impact families living on both sides.
Gibraltar's population of about 34,000 was overwhelmingly against leaving the EU.
In the UK's 2016 Brexit referendum, 96% of voters in Gibraltar supported remaining in the EU, because they felt the trade bloc would give them more leverage to deal with Madrid.
The UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson on December 30th signed the post-Brexit trade deal with the European Union.
Johnson told the media after the signing that "this is not the end, it is a new beginning".
Britain’s House of Commons voted to approve the deal, paving the way for an orderly break with the bloc that will finally complete the UK’s years-long Brexit journey.
With just a day to spare, lawmakers voted 521-73 December 30th to approve the agreement sealed between the UK government and the EU last week.
It will become British law once is passes through the unelected House of Lords on December 30th and gets formal royal assent from Queen Elizabeth II.
The UK left the EU almost a year ago, but remained within the bloc’s economic embrace during a transition period that ends at midnight Brussels time -- 11 p.m. in London - on December 31st.
|Subjects:||Coronavirus , Infectious diseases , Diseases and conditions , Health , Coronavirus , Lung disease , Economy , Business , Trade agreements , Trade policy , International trade , Trade policy , Economic policy , Economic policy , Government business and finance , Government business and finance , Government and politics , Economic policy , Government policy , Trade agreements , International agreements , International relations , Diplomacy , COVID-19 pandemic , Labor negotiations , Personnel , Brexit referendum , Brexit , Christmas , Holidays , Occasions , Lifestyle , Free trade , Trade barriers|
|People:||David Frost , Boris Johnson , Ursula Von Der Leyen|
|Organisations:||European Commission, European Union, France government, United Kingdom government, Spain government, Belgium government|
|Locations:||Spain , Western Europe , Europe , Brussels , Belgium , France , United Kingdom , English Channel , Gibraltar , London , England|
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