Von der Leyen admits his concern over Boris Johnson’s breaches of the Northern Ireland protocol.
“Although today’s vote is obviously an ending, it is also the beginning of a new chapter “, maintains the president of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen. After almost five years of agonizing negotiations after the June 2016 referendum, Brussels definitively turns the page from brexit. The European Parliament plans to ratify this Tuesday the trade agreement that will govern relations between the EU and the United Kingdom, the Last pending procedure to consummate the divorce.
Ratification in the European Parliament was initially scheduled for the last weeks of 2020. But Brussels and London pushed the deadlines to the maximum and They delayed the white smoke until Christmas Eve. MEPs argued that they did not have enough time to review the text and decided to postpone ratification. The trade pact entered into force provisionally on January 1, 2021, pending the endorsement of Parliament.
In recent weeks, the European Parliament has considered delaying ratification again due to non-compliance by the Government of Boris johnson in the implementation of the protocol on Northern Ireland. In addition, the tension between Brussels and London has skyrocketed after the brexit for the vaccine war.
In the end, Parliament has nevertheless decided to complete the ratification, which is also interpreted as a gesture to lower the level of confrontation with the United Kingdom.
“This is a divorce. It is a warning, the brexit. It is an EU failure and we have to learn lessons from it. Why 52% of the British voted against Europe. Our obligation is to listen and understand people’s feelings, “said the EU negotiator for the brexit, Michel Barnier, who, now retired from his duties in Brussels, has received an ovation from parliamentarians for his work.
Michel Barnier, during his last debate in the European Parliament on the ‘Brexit’
“I know that there has been reluctance in this House as to whether it is correct to ratify this agreement when one of the parties is not respecting existing commitments. I share your concerns about the unilateral actions of the United Kingdom since the agreement began to be applied provisionally, “admitted Von der Leyen in the same debate.
However, the president of the Commission still defends the ratification of the agreement because it will facilitate the resolution of disputes. “It will give us the tools we need to ensure full and faithful compliance with our obligations., which both parties signed. And it will also focus our attention on finding pragmatic solutions where they are needed, most urgently in the protocol on Northern Ireland “, Von der Leyen insisted.
In recent weeks, it has been established a new “constructive dynamic” between Brussels and London in the search for shared solutions to problems in Northern Ireland, according to the president.
The great lie of brexit
“Almost five years ago, the UK voted to leave the EU. Today, when we finally put an end to the divorce saga, our message to Boris Johnson is the following: the challenges he faces are immense and he has a responsibility to respect the commitments he made in the Withdrawal Agreement, in particular the Northern Ireland protocol, “said the head of the popular group in the Eurocamara, the German Manfred Weber.
“Protecting peace and stability on the island of Ireland will always be a priority for the EU. Don’t play with fire!”, Insists Weber.
“The brexit represents the great lie of the British right. Boris Johnson promised the United Kingdom the recovery of full sovereignty over its borders, its laws and its waters. The reality is different “, has assured the president of the European socialist group, Iratxe García.” With the brexit consummated, the time has come for the EU “, he stressed.
“Five years after the referendum of the brexit, we see that Leaving the EU was not as easy as promised by the Brexiters. On the contrary, it has caused serious collateral damage “, argues the vice president of the liberal group Renew, Malik Azmani. “Renew it remains unconvinced of the British Government’s willingness to honor its commitments. This agreement is not a blank check, trust must be rebuilt, “he said.
The commercial pact now confirmed guarantees zero tariffs and zero fees in trade between the United Kingdom and the European Union. Yes indeed, customs and sanitary and phytosanitary controls are reintroduced between the two sides of the English Channel, in addition to other bureaucratic obstacles. The deal also does not cover financial services, particularly important to the City of London, which lose their European passport.
The vote on the agreement will take place this afternoon, but the endorsement of the European Parliament is guaranteed because it is supported by the large political groups. Due to the restrictions imposed by the pandemic, the result will not be known until early Wednesday.