EU Parliament formally approves EU-UK Trade and Cooperation Agreement
The EU Parliament has voted in favour of granting its consent to the agreement setting the rules of the future EU-UK relationship.
It was on December 24th last that EU and UK negotiators agreed on the Trade and Cooperation Agreement establishing the terms for future EU-UK cooperation. To minimise disruption, the agreement has been provisionally applied since January 1st 2021. Consent from the Parliament is necessary for the agreement to enter into force permanently before its lapse on April 30th.
The consent decision was adopted by 660 votes for, five against and 32 abstentions, while an accompanying resolution, setting out Parliament’s evaluation of and expectations from the deal, passed by 578 votes, with 51 against and 68 abstentions. The vote took place on Tuesday, with results announced today.
In the resolution, prepared by the UK Coordination Group and the Conference of Presidents, Parliament welcomed the conclusion of the EU-UK Trade and Cooperation Agreement, which it referred to as limiting the negative consequences of the UK’s withdrawal from the EU, which it described as a ‘historic mistake.’
The zero quotas and zero tariffs trade agreement between the EU and the UK are viewed positively by MEPs who believe guarantees on fair competition rules could serve as a model for future trade agreements. It also confirmed that Parliament agrees with provisions on, among others, fisheries, consumers, air traffic and energy.
Peace on the Island of Ireland was outlined as one of the main goals of the future relationship between the EU and the UK. MEPs condemned the UK’s recent unilateral actions which were described as being ‘in breach of the withdrawal agreement.’
Commenting on the finalization of the agreement, Andreas Schieder, (S&D, AT), rapporteur for the Committee on Foreign Affairs highlighted the importance of ongoing monitoring by the Parliament in how the agreement is applied including by being involved in unilateral EU actions under the agreement.
He said, ‘The EU and the UK have created the basis for a relationship among equals. Most importantly, today is a beginning, not the end. We agreed in many important areas, such as securing mutual market access and building a good relationship on trade. Much work remains on foreign policy and educational exchange programmes. For citizens’ interests to be represented, Parliament must be closely involved. Only a partnership in which both sides stick to their commitments has a future.’
With Parliament’s consent, the agreement will enter into force once Council has concluded it by 30th April.