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European Parliament gives the green light to Brexit

MEPs on Wednesday approved the trade agreement concluded by the European Union with the United Kingdom. A decision that puts an end to this divorce initiated in 2016, in a context still tense between the two shores of the Channel.

MEPs on Wednesday approved the trade agreement concluded by the European Union with the United Kingdom. A decision that puts an end to this divorce initiated in 2016, in a context still tense between the two shores of the Channel.

(AFP) It is the end of a divorce that will have lasted more than five years. On Wednesday, MEPs validated the final version of the trade agreement concluded between the United Kingdom and the European Union (EU), following Brexit.

This treaty “marks the foundation of a strong and close partnership with the United Kingdom”, noted on Twitter Ursula von der Leyen, President of the European Commission. His colleague, the President of the European Council Charles Michel hailed him the start of a “new era”.

For his part, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson spoke of “the last stage of a long journey” between two trade partners of “vital importance, close allies and sovereign equals”. “Now is the time to look to the future and build a more inclusive UK,” added the Tory leader.

Five years after the shock of the Brexit referendum, this agreement frames London’s new relationship with the EU-27: trade without tariffs or quotas, a level playing field, but nothing in terms of defense or foreign politic. It was concluded in extremis on December 24, after several months of laborious negotiations led by Frenchman Michel Barnier on the European side.

The green light from MEPs had become urgent: the provisional application of the text ends on Friday. And the UK had ruled out any extension. At the end of the ballot, organized Tuesday evening after a five-hour parliamentary debate, 660 deputies approved the treaty, 5 opposed it and 32 abstained, out of 697 voters, according to results announced Wednesday.

European elected officials also voted a non-binding resolution, in which they qualify Brexit as a “historic error” and ask to be fully involved in future discussions with London on the governance of this 1,250-page agreement. What Ursula von der Leyen promised them on Tuesday.

Relations between London and Brussels have been deeply affected by the British decision to leave the single market, official since January 31, 2020, but effective only since the start of 2021. In terms of trade, European exports to the UK fell 20.2%, when UK imports into the EU fell 47% in the first two months of 2021, according to Eurostat.

Despite this agreement, other points of friction remain unresolved on both sides of the Channel, such as the recent dispute over the supply of AstraZeneca vaccines or the threat Tuesday from France to take “retaliatory measures” against the services. financial institutions if the post-Brexit fisheries agreement was not quickly implemented.


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