MEPs on Monday (October 10) backed legislation that would allow the EU to impose sanctions if it fails to comply with the terms of its Withdrawal Agreement and the Trade and Cooperation Agreement with the Union.
MEPs from the European Parliament’s Committee on Trade, Foreign Affairs and Constitutional Affairs voted in favor of the European Commission’s proposals, with 75 votes “in favor”, no “against” and six “abstentions”.
The proposals would allow the EU executive to impose restrictions on trade, investment or other activities if the UK breaches agreed trade rules.
A final vote on the document will take place in November, with MEPs hoping to finalize the legislation by early 2023.
The main disagreement between the EU and the UK is over the implementation of the protocol in Northern Ireland, which provides customs checks for goods moving between the islands of Great Britain and Ireland.
The UK has refused to implement these customs checks and parliament in Westminster is now considering a bill that would allow Lis Truss’s government to unilaterally override the protocol’s provisions.
The EU has launched infringement proceedings against the UK over the bill, while London has already launched its own consultations on blocking the UK’s membership of the Horizon Europe Research and Development Centre’s programme.
“It goes without saying that we would certainly prefer not to need trade enforcement mechanisms. However, with the Northern Ireland Protocol Bill, the British Government has shown its willingness to violate international law. So it is important to ensure that the EU can protect itself. From an Irish perspective, this regulation is also necessary to protect Ireland’s economy.Sean Kelly, lead negotiator of the proposals for the trade committee, said.
Last week, Irish and British ministers expressed hope that negotiations could be resumed and agreement could be reached on a protocol allowing the establishment of a new devolved government in Northern Ireland by the end of October.
If the October deadline is not met, the UK government will have to call new Belfast Assembly elections.
MEPs are also keen to ensure there is no repeat of the European Commission’s short-term decision in February 2021 to suspend the protocol due to concerns over the procurement of a Covid-19 vaccine. 19.
To avoid this, MEPs are expected to have a say in suspension and sanction mechanisms.
“Tonight’s vote shows that a majority of MEPs are in favor of using trade deals between the EU and the UK as part of post-Brexit deals. I hope the UK can be a reliable partner in the future, but given the UK’s past actions it is not surprising that the EU is wary.”Sean Kelly told EURACTIV.
“We need to see clear steps in support of the UK’s recent positive words to move the relationship forward and rebuild. It is in everyone’s interest,” he said.he added.
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