Members of the European Parliament have voted in favor of the post-Brexit trade deal between Britain and the European Union struck between London and Brussels in December, marking the last hurdle in fully ratifying the pact.
Lawmakers backed the EU-UK trade deal by 660 votes to five, with 32 abstentions, nearly four months after the Brexit pact came into effect. The vote took place on Tuesday but, due to Covid-induced work restrictions, the outcome was not immediately known.
The ratification of the Brexit pact brings to an end years of negotiations concerning the future of relations between the UK and the EU following 47 years of British membership of the trading bloc.
UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson welcomed the “great news” and said: “Now is the time to look forward to a new relationship with the EU and a more Global Britain.” The deal has already been ratified by London and has been in effect since December 31, 2020.
On Tuesday, Michel Barnier, the EU’s former chief Brexit negotiator, addressed the parliament in Brussels and described Britain’s leaving the bloc as a “failure of the European Union,” calling on his colleagues to draw lessons from the departure.
The post-Brexit era has not been without its challenges. In March, the EU started legal action against London for unilaterally changing part of the withdrawal deal relating to Northern Ireland. The withdrawal agreement has angered many in Northern Ireland, sparking the kind of violence which has not been seen for decades. Johnson has vowed to remove “ludicrous barriers” to trade with Belfast.
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, in a veiled threat to London, said that implementation of and full compliance with the pact was of the upmost importance.
Charles Michel, the president of the European Council, said the two parties can now look forward to relations in a new era. “The EU will continue to work constructively with the UK as an important friend and partner,” he added.
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