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European Parliament approves UK's Brexit deal

European Parliament approves UK's Brexit deal

Richard Corbett, MEP - Photo © European Union 2020 - Source EP

(BRUSSELS) - Britain's EU withdrawal agreement has cleared its second-to-last hurdle before entering into force, with the European Parliament's overwhelming approval clearing the way for Brexit to take place Friday.

Parliament's vote followed completion of the ratification process in the UK and the positive recommendation by the EP's Constitutional Affairs Committee.

At the debate, the Parliament's president David Sassoli expressed deep regret that they had reached this point. "Fifty years of integration cannot easily be dissolved," he said. "We will all have to work hard to build a new relationship, always focusing on the interests and protection of citizens' rights."

Most speakers in the debate commenting on the historic importance of the vote on behalf of the political groups stressed that they did not see the UK's withdrawal as the end of the road for the EU-UK relationship and that the ties that bind the peoples of Europe are strong and will remain in place.

"We will miss you," said Guy Verhofstadt MEP, Parliament's Brexit Steering Group coordinator. He was "sad to see a nation leaving, a great nation, that has given so much to all of us, culturally, politically, even its own blood in two world wars."

Others thought there were lessons to be learnt from Brexit that should shape the future of the EU and they thanked the UK and its MEPs for their contribution throughout the UK's membership.

Many speakers warned however that the negotiations on the future relationship between the EU and the UK are going to be difficult, especially taking into account the timeframe provided in the Withdrawal Agreement.

To enter into force, the Withdrawal Agreement will now be put to a final vote by qualified majority in the Council.

Part two of the Withdrawal Agreement protects EU citizens in the UK and UK citizens in other EU countries, as well as their families. According to its provisions, all social security rights under EU law will be maintained and citizens' rights will be guaranteed throughout their lifetime, and relevant administrative procedures have to be transparent, smooth and streamlined. The implementation and application of these terms will be overseen by an independent authority, which will have powers equivalent to those of the European Commission.

The transition period starting on 1 February is set to expire at the end of December 2020. Any agreement on the future EU-UK relationship will have to be fully concluded before that point if it is to come into force on 1 January 2021.

The transition period can be extended once for one to two years, but the decision to do so must be taken by the EU-UK Joint Committee before 1 July.

MEPs will have to approve any future relationship agreement. If such an agreement refers to competences that the EU shares with member states, then national parliaments will also need to ratify it.

Further information, European Parliament

Adopted text (29.01.2020)

Procedure file


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