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We will not let our guard down as next chapter of EU-UK relations begins


27 Apr 2021



The S&D Group will today lead the Parliament in its consent on the EU-UK Trade and Cooperation Agreement. While S&D Members have always considered Brexit a historic mistake, the agreement in front of MEPs today limits the negative consequences of Brexit, protecting workers, consumers, the environment and businesses.

However, the S&D Group will continue to be extremely vigilant and use all tools possible to ensure that the Agreement is properly implemented and respected, particularly in light of the UK government’s recent breaches of the Withdrawal Agreement.

S&D Group president, Iratxe García Pérez MEP, said:

“The EU-UK Trade and Cooperation Agreement has allowed us to avoid a chaotic Brexit that would have disrupted the economy, aggravated the effects of the pandemic and sown the future with uncertainty. While the loss of a significant partner is no cause for celebration, we have guaranteed our objective to maintain a free trade area for goods based on zero tariffs, zero quotas and zero unfair competition. However, Brexit represents the great lie of the British right. Boris Johnson promised the UK the recovery of full sovereignty over its borders, its laws and its waters. The reality is quite different. Brexit should cause people to reflect on how damaging voluntary isolationism can be. For our part, we must extend a hand of loyal friendship and we must do everything possible to develop a constructive partnership on foreign and security policy, and also on education. Responsibility for the mistakes of populist leaders should not affect the potential for future agreements.”

Andreas Schieder MEP, co-rapporteur on the EU-UK Agreement, said:

“Today’s vote is not the end, but instead signals the beginning of the next chapter of our relations with the UK. Despite the lack of political will from Boris Johnson’s government to cooperate on key areas like foreign policy and defence, or to participate in mutually beneficial programmes like Erasmus+,  we believe the current framework provides sound foundations to build on. It also respects the S&D Group’s long-standing insistence on strong level playing field safeguards on worker’s rights and environmental standards. However, the UK government should not misinterpret the vote as a sign that we are letting our guard down. There have been unilateral breaches of the Withdrawal Agreement and the NI Protocol that have impacted negatively on trust and that mean workable solutions need to be found soon. We believe that in ratifying the Agreement we are strengthening our hand as the terms of the deal include unambiguous measures, such as restricting market access, to be able to enforce what both sides have agreed.”

Pedro Silva Pereira MEP, S&D representative on the UK Coordination Group, said:

“It is time to look ahead and to build a new future-oriented relationship with the UK, based on our common values.

“This agreement is an important damage-control exercise: it avoids the no-deal scenario and it provides for a new framework for open and fair competition in unprecedented terms, including unprecedented enforcement mechanisms. Therefore, to approve this Trade and Cooperation Agreement is the right thing to do for the benefit of our citizens and our interests.

“As the European Parliament rapporteur for the Implementation of the Withdrawal Agreement, let me make clear that we will continue to fight for citizens’ rights and that we expect from the UK nothing less than full compliance with the commitments under international law, including the Northern Ireland Protocol."