European Parliament committees back EU-UK trade deal

The foreign affairs and trade committees backed the agreement by 108 votes to one

  

BRUSSELS - The European Parliament's two committees overseeing relations with Britain voted overwhelmingly in favour of the EU-UK trade and cooperation agreement on Thursday, clearing the path to final ratification of the deal.

The foreign affairs and trade committees backed the agreement by 108 votes to one, with four abstentions, the parliament said in a statement.

The full parliament still needs to give its approval, the final step in clearing a deal struck between Britain and the European Union in December. It is clear the deal would receive majority backing. Less clear is whether the chamber will vote.

Lawmakers suspended the voting process in March in protest over British unilateral changes to trading arrangements in Northern Ireland, which Brussels says breach the terms of the Brexit divorce agreement. 

The parliament has until the end of April to vote, but has said it wants to see progress from Britain on implementing the withdrawal agreement and the Ireland/Northern Ireland protocol.

If it does not vote this month, and the provisional application of the agreement is not extended, then the trade deal would cease to apply, leaving Britain and the European Union to trade on World Trade Organization terms with tariffs and quotas.

(Reporting by Philip Blenkinsop. Editing by Mark Potter) ((philip.blenkinsop@thomsonreuters.com; +32 2 585 2869; Reuters Messaging: @reutersPhilB))

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