Breaking: European Parliament approves post-Brexit trade deal with UK
The European Parliament has voted to ratify the EU trade deal with the United Kingdom, but at the same time issued bitter final warnings that trouble lies ahead in cross-Channel ties.
According to Press TV, the 705-member Brussels chamber overwhelmingly backed the bare bones trade deal sealed last Christmas Eve following nine months of bad tempered negotiation.
EU lawmakers supported the trade and cooperation agreement by 660 votes to five, with 32 abstentions, the parliament announced on Wednesday.
The vote took place a day earlier, however, COVID working restrictions meant the result was not immediately known.
Although the move turned the page on a difficult Brexit chapter, there is still little hope of smoothing relations with London.
“Today the European Parliament voted on the most far reaching agreement the EU has ever reached with a third country,” the President of the Assembly, David Sassoli, said on Tuesday.
“This can form the foundation on which we build a new forward-looking EU-UK relationship,” he said, but warned MEPs would monitor the implementation of the deal and “not accept any backsliding from the UK government”.
“You cannot have the advantages of EU membership while being on the outside. However, this agreement goes a long way to mitigate its worst consequences.”
The zero-tariffs, zero-quotas arrangement has provisionally been in force since the end of the transition period on January 1st, however, MEPs demanded extra time to vet the pact.
The pact also includes a deal on fishing which was especially difficult to clinch given the fact that EU fishing crews have lost much of their access to bountiful UK waters.
The EU further delayed its vote in part to protest unilateral delays by the UK in implementing customs checks in Northern Ireland, one of the most controversial issues in the divorce.