European Parliament approves trade agreement with UK •

The European Parliament has decided by a large majority to approve the deal that will govern the future relationship between the European Union and the United Kingdom.

The decision was taken by 660 votes, 5 against, and 32 abstentions. The accompanying resolution, which includes Parliament’s evaluation and expectations of the agreement, was adopted by a majority of 578 votes to 51 against, and 68 abstentions. Voting took place on Tuesday and results were announced on Wednesday.

On December 24, 2020, negotiators from the European Union and the United Kingdom reached an agreement on the Trade and Cooperation Agreement, which sets the terms for future cooperation between the UK and the European Union. In order to avoid unrest, the agreement has been provisionally implemented since January 1, 2021. Parliament approval is necessary for the agreement to enter into permanent effect before it expires on April 30, 2021.

In the resolution prepared by the British Coordination Group and Conference of Chairs, Parliament welcomed the conclusion of the Trade and Cooperation Agreement, which will limit the negative consequences of the UK’s exit from the European Union. But she describes the UK’s exit from the European Union as a “historic mistake”, as no third country can enjoy the same benefits as any member of the European Union.

MEPs are positive about the zero-quota and zero-tariffs agreement between the European Union and the United Kingdom, and fair competition rule guarantees should serve as an example of future free trade agreements. Parliament approves provisions relating to, among other things, fisheries, consumers, air traffic, energy and data protection.

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On the one hand, members of the European Parliament regret that the United Kingdom was not ready to reach an agreement on the continuation of foreign affairs and policies for security and development cooperation and did not wish to participate in the Erasmus + student exchange program.

In a sign of the importance Parliament attaches to maintaining peace in Ireland in approving the future relationship, MEPs condemn the recent unilateral actions taken by the UK in violation of the Withdrawal Agreement. They call on the UK government to “act in good faith and fully and promptly implement the terms of the agreements it has signed”, including the Protocol for Ireland and Northern Ireland, and to apply them in accordance with the timetable that has been established together with the European Commission.

Members of the European Parliament stress that Parliament must play a full role in monitoring the implementation of the agreement and that its views must be taken into account.

“The European Union and the United Kingdom laid the foundation for a peer-to-peer relationship. Most importantly, today is a beginning, not an end. We have reached agreement in many areas, including ensuring mutual access to markets and building good business relationships. There is still a lot of work to do. To be done in the field of foreign policy and educational exchanges. In order to represent the interests of citizens, it is important for Parliament to be closely involved. Andreas Scheider (S&D, AT), rapporteur of the Foreign Affairs Committee, said, “Only a partnership in which both countries fulfill their obligations to it. future”.

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“Ratification of the agreement is not a vote of blind confidence in the UK government’s intention to implement our agreements in good faith. Rather, it is an EU insurance policy against future unilateral deviations from what we have jointly agreed upon. Parliament will remain vigilant. Now let us quickly convene the Parliamentary Partnership Assembly. To continue building bridges across the canal, ”said Christoph Hansen (EPP, LU), ITC rapporteur.

After approval by Parliament, the agreement will enter into force as soon as the House votes on it.

Megan Vasquez

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