Lecturer in European politics Hendrik Vos (UGent) explains that under the agreement the UK will have to stick to EU rules on environment, labour and economic support or else: “If the EU tightens up its rules, the UK will have to follow or face sanctions”.
Under the deal the EU will give up a quarter of its fishing rights in UK waters during the next 5.5 years. Importantly for Belgian fishers fishermen with historic rights will be allowed to continue fishing, but no new entrants will be accepted.
Prof Vos explains that the UK could have banned EU fishers from its waters, but the UK also needs access to EU markets as most of the fish caught in UK waters is exported to the EU.
“Hard Brexiteers will realise what major concessions have now been made. Little remains of the dreams and promises made during the referendum campaign. Hard Brexiteers will resist and Labour will point to the weaknesses.”
UK PM Johnson has a big majority. “If he gets this through quickly and not too many people point to all the concessions, then he might get this through” says Prof Vos.
EU states and the European Parliament still need to approve the deal. The EU is approving it provisionally so it can start on 1 January.
The deal does not mean Belgian industry won’t feel any Brexit pain. Customs formalities will have to be met and checks will be made on food, animal and plant exports.