Brexit deal can be ended in ‘so many ways’ says EU law expert
The European Parliament has kicked off a two-month review of the agreement, promising to “properly scrutinise” the deal and warning its ratification is by no means guaranteed. German MEP Bernd Lange, chairman of the parliamentary trade committee, said MEPs insisted on clear answers and explanations and would, if necessary, demand “tightening additions”.
I could imagine that the European Parliament will demand tightening
The historic deal was approved in record time by British MPs in the House of Commons and given royal assent in the early hours of New Year’s Eve – just in time for the end of the Brexit transition period at 11pm on December 31.
It has been applied provisionally since then to avoid economic shocks on both sides but European Parliamentary confirmation is still pending.
The provisional application lasts until February, although the Strasbourg has said it should be extended to allow it to vote in mid-March.
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Mr Lange said MEPs had many questions about the deal, particularly about tax laws, and said he expected alterations to be made.
He said: “I could imagine that the European Parliament will demand tightening.”
He admitted the hurdles to changing the text of the agreement at this stage of the process would be high but said a committee made up of both sides would be responsible.
The European Parliament’s Brexit representative David McAllister said the EU would make its position on the agreement clear once it had been carefully studied and politically evaluated.
Christian Democrat Christophe Hansen, one of the MEPs charged with steering the deal through parliament, said he regretted the agreement had been rushed through before a full review.
He claimed the UK Government had driven negotiations to the very last moment in the hope of extracting concessions and in doing so deprived British MPs a proper say on the Brexit deal.
Mr Hansen said: “We want to properly scrutinise this agreement.
“The UK, the House of Commons, did it in less than a day.
“We have to make clear that this provisional application, which is not what the parliament wants, that this will not be a precedent for any future agreements.”
A number of parliamentary committees have begun debates on the agreement, including specialists on fisheries and on transport, and will provide formal opinions to the lead committees – trade and foreign affairs – by February 1.
A number of MEPs already signalled their support for the agreement, saying it was better than the damaging alternative: a no deal Brexit.
in London, Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer said there was no scope for “major renegotiation” of the deal but “there are bits already that need to be improved on”.
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Speaking at the weekend he said: “We voted for the deal because the choices before us were to vote for the deal – a thin deal, a deal that isn’t a good deal for manufacturers, for the service sector certainly – but the alternative was no deal.
He added: “There are bits already that need to be improved on. If you look at the creative industries and how they are going to operate across borders, there are huge gaps for them. The service sector of course has largely been left out.
“But I don’t think that there’s scope for major renegotiation. We’ve just had four years of negotiation. We’ve arrived at a treaty and now we’ve got to make that treaty work.
“It is thin, it isn’t what the Government promised, but it is better than no deal and we need to make it work.”
(Additional reporting by Monika Pallenberg)
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