Across Europe’s media there was relief that a deal had finally been reached, and in some places a hope that it would mark a high tide of Brexit sentiment.
France’s Le Monde presented the deal as a political victory for Boris Johnson, who it described as an “unsinkable political machine”.
“His hair is more chaotic than ever, he looks wild at every appearance and seems permanently overwhelmed by events,” the paper said. “But by pulling off a trade deal with the European Union on December 24th, the British prime minister has once again shown the usefulness of pretending to be a madman.”
Spain’s El Mundo was among many welcoming the deal, despite the criticism that it said was certain to follow closer scrutiny.
“The small print remains to be seen – surely it will not satisfy anyone entirely – but the divorce will be consummated amicably after countless disagreements. And that is great news,” El Mundo said.
Johnson’s triumphalist presentation of the agreement was noted by El País, which noted that he was already bracing for criticism from those who thought the deal went too far, and others worried it did not go far enough.
“Johnson’s propagandistic efforts to extol his results can be explained not only by his character and by what is personally at stake for him – which is approximately everything – but also because he needs to break the resistance of the ultra groups (ultra-Brexiteers) and to plug territorial criticisms such as those already unleashed from Scotland.”
But Germany’s business daily Handelsblatt argued that the Christmas Eve agreement would “mark the end of the Brexit movement” in the UK.
With Britain’s departure from the EU complete, the ideological impetus for anti-European sentiment would dissipate and practical realities of life on the bloc’s doorstep would lead to an organic deepening of ties. “From now on the pendulum will swing back the other way,” wrote its London correspondent, Carsten Volkery.
“In the coming years relations between Great Britain and the EU will probably become closer and closer again. Because after all the British Isles remains stuck only 30 kilometres from France, and negotiations between neighbours never really end. Just ask Switzerland,” he added.