The Trade and Co-operation Agreement (TCA) was agreed by the EU and the UK on 24th December 2020 and has been operated provisionally since 01st January 2021.
After several delays, the deal was ratified officially by the European Parliament on 27th April – 660 MEPs voted in favour and 5 against, whilst 32 abstained.
This vote eliminates a remaining area of uncertainty, but it should be noted that the TCA will not last in perpetuity.
It will be reviewed every five years and can be terminated by either side with twelve months’ notice (faster in some situations).
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen welcomed ratification, but has also warned that the TCA has “real teeth” and that the EU will act against any breaches on the UK side.
Other EU officials have also commented, with some – including chief negotiator Michel Barnier – taking a more gloomy line over the net effect of the TCA.
Diplomatic relations between the EU and the UK have remained difficult over the last few months, with frictions in several areas, including:
- UK export of shellfish to the EU
- EU access to UK fisheries
- Implementation of the NI Protocol
- Distribution of Coronavirus vaccines
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