European Parliament Committees on Trade and Foreign Affairs will today debate the recently concluded EU-UK Trade and Partnership Agreement.
Finalised only days before the December 31 deadline, the agreement must be approved by the European Parliament and Council of Ministers before taking effect—the terms are in force on a provisional basis until then. The agreement allows free trade in goods and ensures a “level playing field” in labour, environmental and agricultural regulation, while still granting the UK limited autonomy over state aid to industry and release from the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice.
Expect the legislature to approve the agreement, since the governments of the twenty-seven member states and the European Commission have already ratified it. More important is the implementation process, which will confirm whether the deal’s goal of “managed divergence” in trade policy is workable. Furthermore, since the deal does not address financial and professional services access to Europe, negotiators are likely to wrangle how the City of London’s rules can differ from the EU’s. In the meantime, financial access to Europe hinges on “equivalence” rights, which the EU can withhold if they deem the UK’s financial regulations too divergent from their own.
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James is an analyst on the Current Developments Team, where he specialises in European and Indian politics. He is a regularly contributor to the Daily Brief