In the words of Michelle Barnier as he announced the Brexit deal on Thursday afternoon, “The clock is no longer ticking,” a phrase that was very much his own and one that he repeated time and again during the last 12 months of negotiation.

EU Chief Negotiator Michel Barnier says “today is a day of relief, but tinged by some sadness, as we compare what came before with what lies ahead”

“We have finally found an agreement. It was a long and winding road but we have got a good deal to show for it”

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen says “it is fair, it is a balanced deal and it is the right and responsible thing to do”

So at long last, Brussels and the United Kingdom have reach a historic trade agreement that will avoids the one thing that no-one wanted, a hard Brexit, which would have meant the imposition of tariffs between the two blocks.

The president of the Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, confirmed the agreement at a press conference in Brussels together with the negotiator of the European Union (EU, Michel Barnier. Von der Leyen has described the settlement as a “good agreement”.

She said that the agreement respects the sovereignty of the two blocks. “European regulations will be respected”, said the President of the Commission, who stressed that European fishermen will have five and a half years of stability as they continue to work in British waters.

She let it be known that fishing was the very last obstacle that delayed the agreement, given the British refusal to allow total freedom to the European fishing fleet to operate in its sovereign waters.

British Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, said in London that “this agreement allows the start of a new relationship between the United Kingdom and the EU, “The one we’ve always wanted: a prosperous business and economic relationship between a sovereign UK and our European partners and friends”.

The agreement avoids the imposition of tariffs on trade relations between the two blocs from January 1, when Brexit will take effect

The agreement finally reached by the two blocs comes after four years of negotiations, European negotiators have stressed, and is less ambitious than the EU would have liked. However, it will allow no tariffs to be imposed on the trade relationship between the EU and the United Kingdom in exchange for the British assuming equal rules on competition.

The parties are still examining legal ways so that the new trade and association agreement can be put into practice on a “provisional” basis as early as January 1 to avoid a disorderly break.