EU lawmakers hope to oversee implementation of UK agreement

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen (R) talks with British Prime Minister Boris Johnson before their meeting in Brussels, Belgium, Dec. 9, 2020. (European Union/Handout via Xinhua)

Brussels, Jan 12 (IANS) European Union (EU) lawmakers have demanded to be involved in the implementation and monitoring of the trade agreement between the bloc and the UK.

At their first discussion of the EU-UK trade deal, the MEPs sitting on the International Trade Committee on Monday welcomed that the deal had avoided a no-deal scenario which would have spelt disaster for citizens and companies.

The MEPs welcomed, in particular, the inclusion of standards in environmental protection, climate change, labor, and the prohibition of data localisation.

Most participants insisted that democratically elected institutions like the European Parliament should also have a role in the selection of arbitration panel members.

Geert Bourgeois from Belgium emphasized the future role of an inter-parliamentary body in maintaining dialogue, while Helmut Scholz from Germany called for a role of trade unions and NGOs in the arbitration of fair competition violations.

Eleven months after the UK announced the departure from the EU, the two sides reached the deal on December 24, 2020, featuring a zero-tariff and quota arrangement, which regulates their future relations regarding trade, fishery and security, among others.

The EU-UK trade agreement has been provisionally applied since January 1, 2021.

For it to enter into force permanently, it needs the consent of the EU Parliament.

Several trade MEPs pledged to scrutinise the agreement thoroughly including its “loose ends” instead of mere rubber-stamping.

The trade committee will discuss the agreement together with the Committee on Foreign Affairs on Thursday.

The free trade deal is the biggest bilateral trade deal signed by either side, covering trade worth around 668 billion pounds ($905 billion).

The UK is the EU’s third largest trading partner in goods, after the US and China.

 

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