European Leaders Hail Post-Brexit Deal

Brussels, Dec 24 (AFP/APP): Political leaders in Europe on Thursday hailed the belated sealing of a UK-EU post-Brexit deal that aims to lay the groundwork for long-term future cooperation. British Prime Minister Boris Johnson lauded what he termed “a good deal for the whole of Europe,” which offers “a new stability and a new certainty” to relations.

Former prime ministers David Cameron and Theresa May, who both resigned over Brexit, dubbed the deal “very welcome”. May said it “provides confidence to business and helps keep trade flowing”. “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,” said European Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen.

Chief EU negotiator Michel Barnier warned “this agreement will require efforts”, and notably pledged support to EU fishermen and women after fishing proved the toughest of issues to resolve. Irish Prime Minister Micheal Martin said the deal “represents a good compromise and a balanced outcome” which will avoid a hard border on the border with Northern Ireland, stressing “the UK will always be a close friend and partner”.

“This is the start of a new era in the relationship between the UK and the EU and in Northern Ireland we will want to maximise the opportunities the new arrangements provide for our local economy,” said First Minister Arlene Foster. “Before the spin starts, it’s worth remembering that Brexit is happening against Scotland’s will. And there is no deal that will ever make up for what Brexit takes away from us. It’s time to chart our own future as an independent, European nation,” said First Minister Nicola Sturgeon.

“Europe’s unity and firmness paid off,” tweeted President Macron, adding “the agreement with the United Kingdom is essential to protect our citizens, our fishermen, our producers” and concluding that “Europe is progressing, and can look to the future, united, sovereign and strong”. German Chancellor Angela Merkel said she was “confident” the deal represents a “good outcome” that Germany would be able to support.

Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez tweeted “the principle of an agreement between the EU and the United Kingdom is welcome”, while adding that Madrid and London must continue talking on the status of Gibraltar. “Excellent news that an agreement on a new EU-UK partnership has been reached after tough negotiations,” Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte tweeted, complimenting Michel Barnier and European Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen for “their tireless efforts”.

“I warmly welcome the reaching of an agreement with the United Kingdom,” Portuguese Prime Minister Antonio Costa tweeted, underlining that the UK will remain an important partner and ally. “Good news: deal between the EU and the UK has been agreed,” tweeted Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte. “Interests and rights of European businesses and citizens guaranteed. The UK will be a central partner and ally for the EU and Italy.”

“I welcome that an agreement could be reached by the negotiators on the EU’s future relationship with the UK. We will now carefully examine the agreement,” tweeted Chancellor Sebastian Kurz. “Romania welcomes the agreed partnership on future relations. This agreement will protect the interests of companies & citizens — Romania’s key objectives during these negotiations,” tweeted President Klaus Iohannis.

“Draft agreement is the best Christmas gift EU27 & UK can give each other,” tweeted Foreign Minister Jeppe Kofod.

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