Brexit: UK 'can't decide unilaterally' on protocol says Coveney
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The UK forged a Brexit trade deal with the EU last year after long and arduous negotiations. Key issues such as fishing, trade and laws sparked a heated standoff throughout negotiations for a deal, with the deadlock only breaking days before the deadline at the end of 2020. The EU has postponed setting a date for fully ratifying the deal, which was implemented on January 1. The long term effects of the deal in the EU are yet to be seen, but various groups across the member states warned of the potential impact during negotiations. A study published in December 2017 by researchers at Erasmus University Rotterdam found that regions in Ireland face the most severe Brexit consequences, with potential economic exposure on par with the impact on regions of the UK that were most dependent on ties to the EU.
Their analysis predicted that countries closest to the UK — such as Belgium and the Netherlands, as well as those with high volumes of trade such as Germany and France — will suffer the biggest economic impact from Brexit.
People in the Flanders region of Belgium warned in 2018 that a Brexit deal was crucial to limit the damage caused by the UK’s departure.
Local official Karl Vanlouwe told Politico: “A hard Brexit will lead to 42,000 job losses, whereas a trade agreement could limit these to 10,000 jobs.”
The Erasmus University report highlighted that the “fourth export market for Flanders with £23billion” and “the Flemish road transport sector… will be very hard hit due to changes in customs, free movement of people, potentially deviating rules on health and safety, etc.”
Ireland’s concerns were particularly evident given the country’s especially close ties to the UK.
An Irish official who responded to the Erasmus University survey said: “Ireland imports 89 percent of its oil products and 93 percent of its gas from the UK.”
He added that, since 2007, there has been a single electricity market for the whole island and “post Brexit this single market will be affected and Irish energy security may be weakened.”
On top of this, he highlighted that the Irish counties covered by the Northern & Western Regional Assembly, which share a border with Northern Ireland, are “the most exposed region to Brexit effects due to its high volume of cross-border trade and relative deficits in transport infrastructure (international airports, high-speed motorway, rail services and ports) and digital services.”
The Hauts-de-France region in the north of France also expressed concern.
Its official, François Decoster, stressed that “in the automotive sector, there are major concerns regarding future relations with the UK, particularly on the part of the car maker Toyota, which operates in the region. For example, 13 percent of Yaris exports in 2016 went to the UK.”
Meanwhile, in the French region of Brittany, local figures warned that fishing industries could also be impacted.
The region’s fishing body said: “The end of the access to the British fishing areas is a real economic risk, 50 percent of the fishing activity in Brittany region is made inside the British Exclusive Economic Zone.”
The Brexit deal has given French vessels continued access to British waters, but with smaller quotas.
Border disruption with the EU, caused in part by Brexit, is also expected to produce an economic hit in the first three months of this year for the UK, according to the Office of Budget Responsibility (OBR).
In its latest economic forecast, the watchdog said it expected “near-term disruption” to trade in goods with the EU to reduce gross domestic product (GDP), a measure of the size of the economy, by 0.5 percent in the first quarter of 2021.
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COVID-19 travel restrictions imposed on the UK by Brussels have also taken a toll, it said.
The OBR added: “Taking all these factors into account, we now expect the temporary near-term disruption to EU-UK goods trade to reduce GDP by 0.5 percent in the first quarter of this year.
“This reflects both that exports appear to have been hit harder than imports and that the trade disruption will affect UK supply chains.
“As firms on both sides of the Channel grow accustomed to new trading arrangements, this disruption dissipates, though further disruption is possible when the UK enforces the agreement in full on its side of the border later in the year.”
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