European Parliament approves Brexit deal

Qualified majority vote in the Council will conclude the process

European Parliament sealed the UK leaving the EU on 31 January by approving on Wednesday the Withdrawal Agreement, the EP press service reported. The vote was preceded by a debate with the Croatian State Secretary for European Affairs Nikolina Brnjac on behalf of the Presidency of the Council, Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, and the EUs Chief Negotiator Michel Barnier, Parliament took stock of the withdrawal process so far and the challenges ahead.

Commenting on the historic importance of the vote, most speakers on behalf of the political groups highlighted that the UK's withdrawal will not be the end of the road for the EU-UK relationship and that the ties that bind the peoples of Europe are strong and will remain in place. They also mentioned that there are lessons to be learnt from Brexit that should shape the future of the EU and thanked the UK and its MEPs for their contribution throughout the UK’s membership. Many speakers warned that the negotiations on the future relationship between the EU and the UK are going to be difficult, especially taking into account the time-frame provided in the Withdrawal Agreement.

“It deeply saddens me to think that we have come to this point. Fifty years of integration cannot easily be dissolved. We will all have to work hard to build a new relationship, always focusing on the interests and protection of citizens' rights. It will not be simple. There will be difficult situations that will test our future relationship. We knew this from the start of Brexit. I am sure, however, that we will be able to overcome any differences and always find common ground,” EP President David Sassoli said after the historic vote.

To enter into force, the Withdrawal Agreement will now be put to a final vote by qualified majority in the Council. The transition period starting on 1 February is set to expire at the end of December 2020. Any agreement on the future EU-UK relationship will have to be fully concluded before that point if it is to come into force on 1 January 2021. Parliament will have its say on future relationship with UK

Parliament’s UK coordination group, led by Foreign Affairs Committee Chair David McAllister (EPP, DE), will liaise with the EU Task Force for Relations with the UK and coordinate with the Foreign Affairs Committee and International Trade Committee and all other competent committees. The EP will follow closely the work of the EU negotiator Michel Barnier and continue to influence the negotiations through resolutions. The final agreement will need the approval of the Parliament as a whole.

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