On Thursday, the Foreign Affairs and Trade committees voted in favour of the agreement that sets the rules of the future relationship between the EU and the UK.
The committees on Foreign Affairs and International Trade agreed to the proposal by rapporteurs Andreas Schieder (AFET, S&D, AT) and Christophe Hansen (INTA, EPP, LU) by 108 votes in favour, one against and four abstentions, and thus recommend that Parliament’s plenary approve the treaty.
Following the vote, the rapporteurs made the following statements.
“Brexit is a historic mistake, but now we need to establish a strong fundament for future relations. With today’s decision, we welcome the provisions that bind the UK to our current high labour and environmental standards. However, all progress could be lost, if the UK continues to unilaterally breach the Withdrawal Agreement and the Protocol on Northern Ireland. We look forward to a workable plan on the implementation of the protocol and to being involved in the implementation and scrutiny of the agreement”, said Andreas Schieder.
“Economic Brexit at the beginning of this year has caused real disruption. The Trade and Cooperation Agreement, however imperfect it may be, has worked to cushion the worst impact. Ratifying it in Parliament after intensive scrutiny increases legal certainty for companies now operating in a difficult environment, and solidifies and preserves the unprecedented safeguards ensuring a level playing field, so painstakingly obtained. Moreover, greenlighting the agreement also means expanding our arsenal of legal tools and leverage to continue pressing for a full and pragmatic implementation of the Withdrawal Agreement and its Protocol, the importance of which was underscored by recent events in Northern Ireland,” said Christophe Hansen.
EU and UK negotiators agreed on the terms of the Trade and Cooperation Agreement on 24 December 2020. To minimise disruption, the agreement has been provisionally applied since 1 January 2021 and will lapse on 30 April 2021. For it to enter into force permanently, it requires Parliament’s consent. Parliament has repeatedly stated that it considers provisional application to be the result of a unique set of circumstances and an exercise not to be repeated.
The full House is to take the final decision, as well as adopt a separate resolution, at a future plenary session. On 13 April, the Parliament’s Conference of Presidents decided not to set a plenary date in order to emphasise that the UK side needs to fully implement the Withdrawal Agreement before doing so.