The EU parliament will vote today on the EU-UK Trade and Cooperation agreement, which governs post-Brexit relations.
Britain’s parliament already ratified the deal, which provisionally came into force in December 2020. Previously, some EU lawmakers threatened not to ratify the deal over British changes to Northern Ireland (NI) trading arrangements. NI remains in the EU single market to ease border flows, with a “grace period” delaying the imposition of border checks. A unilateral British extension of the grace period prompted EU ire and threats. Nonetheless, on April 15 the deal cleared parliamentary committees, and all 27 EU member states approved it in their respective parliaments.
If the deal is not ratified by April’s end, its provisional application will automatically terminate, forcing the UK and EU to trade on WTO terms. Fear over such uncertainty exacerbated unrest in NI, which remains a flashpoint in EU-UK tension over Brexit.
Expect the EU parliament to ratify the agreement. Its approval will mark a significant milestone in post-Brexit relations, but not the end of ongoing disputes. Expect EU lawmakers to continue calls for Britain to end the grace periods extensions, though the loss of ratification as leverage means their demands will hold little threat.
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Jon is a Content Editor and Analyst within the Analysis division of Foreign Brief.