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BREXIT

‘The deal is done’: EU and UK finally reach a Brexit trade agreement

After months of fraught negotiations the EU and the UK have finally reached a trade deal, both sides announced on Thursday.

'The deal is done': EU and UK finally reach a Brexit trade agreement
Francisco Seco / POOL / AFP

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.

“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.”

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TRAVEL NEWS

France may cut Channel islands ferry service after post-Brexit collapse in visitor numbers

Visits to the Channel islands from France have halved since Brexit, and French local authorities say they may be forced to cut the regular ferry service, asking for the passport requirement to be waived for French visitors.

France may cut Channel islands ferry service after post-Brexit collapse in visitor numbers

Travel to and from the Channel islands – which are British crown dependancies – has reduced significantly since Brexit, when passports became a requirement for those travelling in and out of the islands and their ports.

Now the president of the local authorities in the Manche département of France has asked that passport requirements be lifted, with hopes of increasing travel to and from the islands.

Jean Morin told Ouest France that there has been a “considerable reduction in the number of passengers on routes between the Channel ports and the islands” and as a result the ferry service between France and the islands was seriously in deficit.

“On these lines, we will never make money, but we cannot be in deficit”, explained the Morin. 

He added that if a solution is not found by the deadline of May 1st, 2023, then local authorities will stop funding the shipping company DNO, which runs the Manche Îles Express ferry service.

“If the passport requirement is not lifted by then, we will have no choice but not to renew the service contract for 2024-2025”, Morin told Ouest France.

Only around half of French people have a passport, since the ID card issued to all adults is sufficient to travel within the EU. 

READ MORE: Ask the Expert: How Brexit has changed the rules on pensions, investments and bank accounts for Brits in France

DNO re-launched operations in April and since then, the company, and by extension the département – who plays a large role in funding it via a public service delegation – has been losing significant funds.

According to Franceinfo, the number of passengers has been cut in half since passport requirements were introduced. Franceinfo estimates that for one ticket for one passenger costing €30, the département spends €200.

According to Morin, the ideal solution would be to require a simple ID for tourists seeking to take just day-long or weekend-long stays on the islands – which reportedly represents at least 90 percent of the boats’ usual passengers.

“The Jersey government is working hard on the issue and is waiting for an agreement from London and the European Union. There is the possibility that things could move quickly”, Morin told Franceinfo on Tuesday.

Prior to the Covid-19 pandemic and Brexit, boats going to and from the French mainland carried at least 110,000 people per year. In 2022, only 40,000 passengers made the journey, Olivier Normand, the sales manager of Manche Îles Express, told Actu France.

Normand had expected the decline, however. He told Actu France that the company had taken a survey, which found that almost half (between 40 and 50 percent) of their clientele did not have a passport. 

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