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Trade deal signed but 'Brexit is far from over', expert tells Euronews

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By Alessio Dellanna
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Boris Johnson signs the EU-UK Trade and Cooperation Agreement at 10 Downing Street, London Wednesday Dec. 30, 2020.
Boris Johnson signs the EU-UK Trade and Cooperation Agreement at 10 Downing Street, London Wednesday Dec. 30, 2020.   -   Copyright  Leon Neal/Pool via AP
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The United Kingdom ratified the Brexit trade deal on Wednesday and prepares to finally turn the page on four years of difficult negotiations with the EU.

Euronews asked Professor Anand Menon, director of the think-tank UK in a Changing Europe, what this deal really means for Britain.

"Whilst we formally take sovereignty in the sense of no longer being bound by European Union law and no longer being under the jurisdiction of the EU's court, the terms of the trade deal itself restrict our freedom of movement. For instance, our ability to lower standards is severely restricted because of the fact that the EU can retaliate".

How good is this deal for businesses?

"I think what you'll hear from manufacturers today is that they would far rather have this deal than no deal at all, but those manufacturers are still going to face a raft of new paperwork they will have to complete to trade with the European Union."

"Trading goods with the European Union will be slower and more expensive than it was during the transition period. And for services industries, which make 80% of the UK economy, there is precious little in this deal, which means that trading services with the European Union is going to become much, much more expensive".

Can the deal be renegotiated?

"There is scope within this agreement for it to be revisited permanently. There is a very intricate Committee structure that can renegotiate elements of the deal. And the deal itself is up for review every five years, so more can be added if necessary."

What does this deal mean in terms of security for both sides?

"The deal goes further than most people had feared, in the sense that there are arrangements in place for police forces on both sides to collaborate together, and for the UK to continue to access some EU databases which are of interest to police counterterrorism and counter organised-crime forces."

How about defense?

"Quite at an early stage the British government said it didn't want to negotiate foreign policy and defence, so that's completely absent from this deal."

Are negotiations really over?

"Brexit is far from over. There are there certain things that we can keep renegotiating, or certain things that we will have to negotiate again, like fisheries....But also, for some Conservative MPs, leaving the EU wasn't an end in itself", but a way to start domestic reforms, Menon told Euronews.

"Whilst we will have left the transition period, Brexit and its implications will continue to haunt Britain for many years to come," he added.