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Brexit Weekly Digest - 30 April

This week, the European Parliament voted in favour of the UK trade deal. In this special edition digest, we report on what happens next, the response from governments, and how the deal will impact trade.

European Parliament backs UK trade deal

Since the EU exit in January, the Trade and Cooperation Agreement (TCA), a document outlining the arrangements for the Free Trade Agreement, citizen security, and Governance frameworks, has been operating provisionally.

On 28 April, European Parliament voted in favour of the post-Brexit trade deal, with 660 votes to 5, while 32 abstained.

GOV.UK has a page dedicated to the TCA and other agreements reached between the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and the European Union, including a summary explainer of the 1,246 page TCA document.

 

Government and Parliamentary response

The result has been welcomed by European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, who tweeted “The TCA marks the foundation of a strong and close partnership with the UK”.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson released a statement saying the trade deal provided “stability to our relationship with the EU as vital trading partners, close allies and sovereign equals”.

The UK’s chief negotiator, Lord Frost, said the vote “brings certainty and allows us to focus on the future”. However, his EU counterpart, Michel Barnier, told Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) that the deal was “a divorce. It’s a failure of the European Union”.

 

What happens next?

The agreement will only be formally ratified following adoption by the EU council of ministers, due by 30 April (The Guardian).

There continue to be technical discussions over the Northern Ireland protocol and how it should be implemented. While the protocol was previously agreed as part of the withdrawal agreement in January 2020, the UK wants to be more “pragmatic” about how it interprets the deal. The EU are open to working out a mutually agreeable solution, but could fine the UK a “lump sum or penalty payment” for breaching the protocol, The Independent reports.

 

Impact on trade

The TCA establishes zero tariffs or quotas on trade between the UK and the EU, but not for services such as banking, insurance, advertising, and legal advice.

Previous reports of businesses facing more paperwork and extra costs for trading between the UK and EU will likely continue.

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