UK trade deal on track for ratification by February deadline, EU diplomat says – MLex
- The EU-UK Brexit trade deal, currently under provisional application, is on track to be ratified by a deadline of the end of February, a senior EU diplomat said today.
- Portugal’s permanent representative to the EU, Nuno Brito, told a media briefing in Brussels that he was confident that the process would be completed by Feb. 28. Portugal is chairing governments’ legislative talks after taking over the rotating EU presidency for six months on Jan. 1.
- “We would like to see this agreement approved by the [European] Parliament as soon as possible,” Brito said. “We hope to be in a position to do that [and have national governments sign it off by Feb. 28],” he added. “At this point, I have no indication that we cannot do that.”
- After the UK government and European Commission reached a deal on Dec. 24, EU lawmakers expressed frustration that they hadn’t been given a chance to scrutinize the agreement before the end of the UK’s Brexit transition period on Dec. 31.
- The European Parliament is still required to look at the deal and formally approve it before the Council of the EU can conclude the process.
- The UK completed its ratification process during an emergency session of Parliament last week, with lawmakers in the lower House of Commons and upper House of Lords voting overwhelmingly for the agreement.
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- Prime Minister Boris Johnson will hold a call with U.K. business leaders to spell out details of the last-minute trade deal he struck with the European Union.
- The call, planned for Wednesday at 4:30 p.m., will also include Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak, Business Secretary Alok Sharma and Trade Secretary Liz Truss, according to four people familiar with the matter.
- It’s the latest step in a charm offensive by Johnson’s government to sell the trade agreement to British firms that spent the bulk of 2020 clamoring for clarity on the nature of economic ties with the bloc.
- The call with Johnson will also take in the “government’s continued response to Covid-19,” according to an email invite seen by Bloomberg.
- The deal brought to an end more than four years of tortured negotiations that followed the U.K.’s vote to leave the EU in 2016. It allows for tariff- and quota-free trade in goods but doesn’t apply to the services industry, which makes up about 80% of the U.K. economy.