The EU's chief negotiator Michel Barnier on Thursday hailed the last-minute deal.
"We have reached an agreement that is fair and reasonable and corresponds to our principles," Barnier told reporters, but urged caution as the deal must still pass through the British Parliament – which has rejected a Brexit deal three times before.
Negotiators in Brussels and London this week have gone from optimism to dismay and back again, with the pound twitching at every murmur. It rallied on news of the deal, touching US$1.2990 before paring gains.
In a revised political declaration, the two sides pledged to:
establish a wide-ranging free trade agreement
reach a deal on services that goes beyond WTO levels
agree equivalence for financial services firms
allow free movement of capital
establish visa-free travel for short-term visits
commit to a level playing field, with common high standards in state aid, competition, welfare, tax, and environmental matters.
Now, the many predictions about the costs or benefits of Brexit may be put to the test. At the very least, businesses and travelers will be spared the inevitable disruption that would have been triggered by Britain crashing out without a deal. For both sides, the agreement is a chance to move their political agendas on and to start focusing on their future trading relationship.
EU chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier told reporters in Brussels that he believes the deal can be ratified by the end of October. He called it a “fair and reasonable basis for an orderly withdrawal” by the UK.
In a nod to the painful wrangling of the past three years, he also compared getting the deal done to climbing a mountain.