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UK publishes Brexit trade deal

The U.K. on Saturday published the trade deal it reached with the European Union to facilitate its break from the bloc, revealing for the first time details of the agreement that both sides touted earlier this week.

The 1,246-page trade document covers an array of trade issues as well as accords on topics such as nuclear energy and exchanges of intelligence. It primarily means that upon leaving the EU, the U.K. will not face any tariffs or quotas in its trading relationship with its continental neighbors.

As part of the deal, the U.K. will be forced to subscribe to “level playing field” principles to ensure that EU trading partners do not have an advantage over the continent by receiving state aid or implementing more lax environmental or labor regulations. British goods will also still have to face regulatory checks at the border.

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The two sides first announced the trade deal earlier this week, hailing it as a good agreement following months of at time tense negotiations. The agreement helps prevent a “hard” Brexit before the U.K.’s formal break in January, which would have caused widespread disruptions across Europe. 

The deal was presented to European ministers Friday, and it will have to be ratified by the European and British parliaments.

“We have finally found an agreement. It was a long and winding road, but we have got a good deal to show for it. It is fair, it is a balanced deal, and it is the right and responsible thing to do for both sides,” European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said at a press conference on Thursday.

The deal allows each side to use an independent subsidy control adjudicator to settle any disputes.

Among the specific provisions are agreements on services, which account for roughly 80 percent of the U.K.’s economy, and fishing rights, a top issue for coastal towns in the U.K. and EU. 

The two sides agreed on services to “establish a favourable climate for the development of trade and investment between them,” and the U.K. said it would phase in new rules on EU fishing in British waters for 5 ½ years. After that time period, the two sides would hold annual negotiations on what EU vessels are allowed to catch in those waters.

The U.K. will also no longer participate in certain security sharing groups, but intelligence is still expected to flow between the two sides.

The agreement caps off four years of uncertainty since a 2016 referendum in the U.K. that resulted in a slim majority of voters backing leaving the European bloc. The vote set off a scramble by both sides on figuring out a way to formalize the break, with years of negotiations proving fruitless until recent months.