MEPS voted on whether to approve the EU-UK agreement, that was struck on Christmas Eve last year, last night. The result is due to be announced at 8am GMT today. Although MEPs have yet to formally ratify the deal, officials agreed to allow the terms of the treaty to be introduced provisionally from January 1 – when the Brexit transition period ended.
MEPs are expected to endorse the trade deal, even though several have highlighted their reservations to the agreement in the European Parliament this week.
In a stinging attack, MEPs branded the result of 2016’s referendum on our EU membership a “historic mistake”, blamed Brexiteers for recent violence in Northern Ireland and accused Downing Street of ruining the futures of young people.
Brussels has until the end of April to ratify the deal and has postponed the vote for as long as possible due to the arrangements for Northern Ireland.
But if the deal is not ratified by the deadline, the EU-UK relationship would fall back to World Trade Organisation terms, with quotas and tariffs.
Ahead of the vote European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen pointed out there had been “some reluctance” among MEPs to ratify the agreement “when existing commitments are not being respected by one side”.
In a clear dig at Boris Johnson’s Government, she told MEPs she shared “the concenrs you have on unilaterial actions by the UK” in relation to Northern Ireland.
But she did outline the benefits of the trade deal and said the agreement “comes with real teeth”.
The terms surrounding Northern Ireland remain a sticking point, as the terms mean the country remains part of the EU customs area.
This effectively moves the border to the Irish Sea and requires a host of new checks and procedures.
The two sides have re-entered talks to iron out the issues regarding Northern Ireland.
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