THE European Parliament will officially sign off the European Union’s post-Brexit trade deal with the United Kingdom this Friday, despite MEPs calling the divorce a ‘historic mistake’.
An overwhelming majority of MEP voted to ratify the pact yesterday (Wednesday 29) nearly four months after the Trade and Cooperation Agreement between the UK and the bloc came into force.
Austrian MEP Andreas Schieder, who led the European Parliament foreign affairs committee’s work on the UK-EU deal, said: “Brexit is a historic mistake.
“It was pushed through by irresponsible nationalism based on false promises and short-sightedness.
“Brexit is bad for Britain and Brexit is bad for Europe.
“The price is not paid by the Conservative millionaires but by the most vulnerable people in our society.”
In the final tally, 660 MEPs (Members of European Parliament) voted in favour of the trade deal, five against, with 32 abstentions, results showed on Wednesday.
EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier told the European Parliament: “This is a divorce.
“It’s a warning, Brexit, and it’s a failure – a failure of the European Union.
“And we have to learn lessons from it as politicians here in the European Parliament, in Council, in the Commission, in all of the capitals.
“Why did 52% of the British vote against Europe? There are reasons for that – social anger and tension which existed in many regions in the UK but also in many regions of the EU.
“Our duty is to listen and understand the feelings of the people.”
The vote ratifies the trade deal that was struck on Christmas Eve just days before the Brexit transition period ran out.
The Trade and Co-operation Agreement (TCA), which provides the framework for Britain’s new relationship with the 27-member union, had been sealed in December 2020 after nine months of negotiations and had been operating provisionally since January 1, 2021.
But the European Parliament wanted to take its time scruitising the terms and the EU’s member states are only now expected to rubber-stamp the accord following the European Parliament’s ratification tomorrow (Friday).
The bloc will then inform the UK, and the trade agreement will come into full force formally.
The UK’s Johnson said the ratification would provide “stability” in the UK-EU relations, while his chief negotiator in the talks, David Frost, said it brought “certainty and allows us to focus on the future”.
Since the agreement came into effect at the start of January British goods sales to the EU fell by 42%, while imports from the EU fell by 29%.
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