European Leaders react to Brexit deal

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PARIS, Dec 24 (Reuters) – French President Emmanuel Macron responded to the Brexit deal with the United Kingdom on Thursday, saying the united and firm position taken by Europe had paid off.

“The unity and strength of Europe paid off. The agreement with the United Kingdom is essential to protect our citizens, our fishermen, our producers. We will make sure that this is the case,” Macron said on Twitter.

“Europe is advancing and can look towards the future, in a united and sovereign manner, and with strength,” added Macron.

Belgian Prime Minister Alexander De Croo said the Brexit trade deal clinched with the European Union on Thursday offers the possibility to maintain a strong relationship with the UK and “provides crucial guarantees for fair competition for our companies.”

“In the end, there is only one thing that matters to me: ensuring the best possible protection for Belgium’s economic interests. We must protect our Belgian companies from unfair British competition,” De Croo said in a statement.

“With this agreement, we can put the intense discussions of the past four years behind us. Now we can work on building a new, strong relationship with the United Kingdom, which has always been a historic partner for our country. It is now time to look to the future,” De Croo said.

Belgium will start analysing the agreement, De Croo said, as will the other 26 EU member states and the European Parliament.

reland believes the trade deal agreed between Britain and the European Union on Thursday protects its interests as well as could possibly have been hoped, Foreign Minister Simon Coveney said.

“Today we finally get certainty that there is a trade deal that I think protects Ireland in the circumstances as well as we could possibly have hoped,” Coveney told Newstalk Radio.

Prime Minister Micheál Martin described the deal in a statement as “a good compromise and a balanced outcome”

Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte said the Brexit trade deal clinched with the European Union on Thursday was “good news” and that Britain would remain a central partner and ally for the EU and Italy.

“The interests and rights of European businesses and citizens are guaranteed,” Conte said in a tweet.

Germany on Thursday pledged to help speed up the process to bring the Brexit trade deal clinched between Britain and the European Union into force on Jan. 1.

“As the holder of the Presidency of the Council of the EU, we want to help ensure a swift and efficient ratification so that the agreement can enter into force in good time as of 1 January 2021,” Germany’s Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said in a statement.

“That will be challenging and require much flexibility on all sides. However, I am confident that this can be achieved,” he said.

Britain clinched a narrow Brexit trade deal on Thursday, just seven days before it exits one of the world’s biggest trading blocs. 

Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez said Madrid and London would continue to negotiate an agreement on the British territory of Gibraltar on the Iberian peninsula after the Brexit trade deal clinched with the European Union on Thursday.

“I welcome the principle of agreement between the EU and the UK … The member states will examine it and the EU Council will take a decision in the coming days,” he tweeted. “Spain and the UK continue their dialogue to reach an agreement on Gibraltar.” 

Reporting by Marine Strauss, Sudip Kar-Gupta and Michel Rose editing by Kate Abnett, Alison Williams)

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