On Wednesday morning, the European Parliament ratified the post-Brexit EU-UK trade deal, touted as essential to ensure tariff and quate-free trade continues.
Since January, the Trade and Co-operation Agreement (TCA), better known as the Brexit trade deal, has been operating provisionally. MEPs have now voted in favour by 660 votes to five, with 32 abstentions.
The results were announced on Wednesday after a vote late on Tuesday.
“I warmly welcome the EP vote in favour of the EU-UK Trade and Cooperation Agreement,” said European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen on Twitter.
“The TCA marks the foundation of a strong and close partnership with the UK. Faithful implementation is essential,” she added.
In contrast, the EP’s Brexit coordinator, Guy Verhofstadt, described the deal as a “failure for both sides, but better than nothing”.
His sentiment was reflected by Michel Barnier, the EU’s chief Brexit negotiator, who said:
“This is a divorce. It is a warning, Brexit. It’s a failure of the European Union and we have to learn lessons from it.”
Since the chaotic Brexit agreement was provisionally introduced in January, thorny issues remain. One major sticking point remains the introduction of new fishing restrictions, with France issuing a threat of “reprisals” against the UK.
Before MEPs debated on Tuesday, French Europe Minister Clément Beaune accused the UK of blocking fishing rights.
“The United Kingdom is expecting quite a few authorisations from us for financial services. We won’t give any for as long as we don’t have guarantees on fishing and other issues,” he said on French news channel BFMTV.
French fisherman have issued complaints after claiming they were prevented from operating in British waters because of the difficulties in obtaining licences.
Locally, a major complaint about the TCA agreement with regards to Malta’s UK car import market. Malta, like Cyprus, depends on the UK for most car imports since all three countries use right-hand drive vehicles, as opposed to the rest of Europe.
The price of used cars from the UK is said to have increased by 24 to 30 per cent thanks to additional charges on imports, which may make the sector uncompetitive, putting at risk thousands of jobs.
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