Brussels (Brussels Morning) The European Parliament held its last debate on the post-Brexit trade pact on Tuesday, with the final vote expected to greenlight the agreement, Reuters reports.
The vote will wrap up ratification of the trade and cooperation agreement reached in December last year, the culmination of roughly four years of negotiations.
Michel Barnier, EC’s Head of Task Force for Relations with the UK, put it succinctly, stating “this is a divorce”.
Brexit a failure of the EU – Barnier
“It’s a failure of the EU and we have to learn lessons from it,” he observed. Noting that 52% of UK voters are “against Europe”, he said “our duty is to listen and understand the feelings of the people”.
The outcome of the final EP vote is to be released to the public today.
Assembly committees having previously approved the agreement by 108 votes to 1, it is highly likely that MEPs will support the deal.
The vote could, however, be delayed since MEPs have protested the UK’s unilateral changes to the trading arrangement in Northern Ireland. The bloc launched legal proceedings because of the UK’s action.
EC President Ursula von der Leyen pointed out that the agreement provides tools for both sides to help ensure compliance with the agreement and the Brexit deal.
“Let me be clear: we do not want to have to use these tools”, she declared at the start of the debate, before stressing that “we will not hesitate to use them if necessary”.
EU members to give final green light
Once the EP approves the agreement, all 27 EU member states have to give their final approval before the bloc informs the UK and formally concludes the trade deal.
The EP is to vote on an accompanying resolution which describes Brexit as an “historic mistake” and calls on the EC to continue its legal action against Britain.
The resolution also points out that the trade deal significantly reduces opportunities for the UK’s economy, which is largely based on services.