European Union Lawmakers Back Trade Deal with United Kingdom

Members of the European Parliament have backed a trade deal between the UK and the EU, effectively clearing the bill for ratification.

Lawmakers and policy review teams for the EU cleared the trade and cooperation agreement (TCA) by a vote of 660 to five. There were 32 abstentions in the vote, which took place on Tuesday.

The clearing of the bill brings to an end four years of tenuous and what some would consider “distrustful” trade negotiations following the Brexit vote in 2016. The UK formally left the European Union on January 31, 2020, voting to withdraw back in 2016 with a majority of 17.4 million votes (52%).

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen told reporters that she “warmly welcomed” the vote, noting that, “The TCA marks the foundation of a strong and close partnership with the UK.” 

Von der Leyen also made clear that “faithful implementation” is essential to a long-lasting and lucrative trade agreement.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson made comments on the vote, saying that this was “a final step” in the tenuous agreements and that “now is the time to look forward”, with plans to help build a more “global Britain”.

EU lawmakers have also pushed for the signing of a resolution that would accompany the bill, one that calls Brexit a “historic mistake”. 

The document discusses the limited scope of the trade deal and notes that the UK’s largely service driven economy has been “vastly reduced” since their departure.

British exports to the EU fell 47% in January and February this year, with imports falling by 20% in the same timeframe. This is the largest decrease of any nation that trades with the EU.

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