Brexit: How European leaders reacted to EU-UK trade deal


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media headlineThe European Commission announces a ‘fair’ trade agreement after Brexit
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A post-Brexit trade agreement has been agreed between the EU and the UK, bringing relief, sadness and optimism for the future.

European leaders have responded to the announcement. Here is what some of them have said.

Ursula von der Leyen, President of the European Commission

At a press conference in Brussels, the President of the European Commission said that the agreement was “fair and balanced”.

She said Britain and the EU would “continue working together in all areas of mutual interest”, such as climate change, energy, security and transport.

Now was “the time to turn the page and look to the future”, she said, adding Britain “remains a trusted partner”.

“Divorce is such a sweet sorrow,” said Mrs. von der Leyen.

“To all Europeans, I say: it is time to leave Brexit. Our future is created in Europe.”

Michel Barnier, EU negotiator

“The clock is no longer ticking,” Mr Barnier said, referring to the end of Britain’s Brexit transition period on 31 December.

“Today is a day of relief, but colored by a certain sadness when we compare what came before with what awaits.”

media headline‘Today is a day of relief’, says EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier

Angela Merkel, German Chancellor

Mrs Merkel said the agreement had created “the basis for a new chapter in our relationship” with Britain, which “will continue to be an important partner for Germany”.

“The federal government will now examine the text of the agreement closely. But we are not starting at zero. The Commission has kept the member states in the loop throughout the negotiation process,” she said.

“So we will be able to quickly assess whether Germany can support today’s results of the negotiations,” she added.

Micheál Martin, Prime Minister of Ireland

Taoiseach (Irish Prime Minister) Mr. Martin said he believed the deal was “a good compromise and a balanced outcome”.

copyrightPA media
captionSir. Martin said the deal was a “good compromise”

He said there was “no such thing as a ‘good Brexit’ for Ireland”.

“But we have worked hard to minimize the negative consequences,” he added. “I believe that the agreement reached today is the least bad version of Brexit possible given the current circumstances.”

Pedro Sánchez, Prime Minister of Spain

In a tweet, Mr Sánchez welcomed the greeting but said it would be investigated by EU countries in the coming days.

“Spain and the United Kingdom are continuing their dialogue to reach an agreement on Gibraltar,” Mr Sánchez added, referring to British overseas territory on the south coast of Spain.

António Costa, Prime Minister of Portugal

“We very much welcome the agreement reached with the United Kingdom on relations with the EU from 1 January,” Costa said in a statement.

“In addition to our neighbor and allies, Britain will remain an important partner.”

Stef Blok, Dutch Foreign Minister

Sir. Mr Blok said the Netherlands would “carefully study the draft texts”, in particular the key points holding back the agreement – fisheries, a level playing field and rules.

He said there was “very little time to do this” before the end of the Brexit transition period.

“Before a decision is taken in Brussels, the government will send an initial assessment of the agreement to parliament so that it has the opportunity to discuss the agreement.”

Guy Verhofstadt, Chief Brexit Representative to the European Parliament

Sir. Verhofstadt said he hoped the agreement “will be a first step in Britain’s return to the European family”.

“Finally, a historic and unprecedented agreement is reached in the interest of all,” he tweeted. “Although less ambitious than we wanted, it fully preserves the internal market through binding arbitration.”

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