‘Trust’ key to future EU-UK relationship, say MEPs

Dutch MEP Kati Piri says the EU should insist that the UK affords full diplomatic privileges to the bloc’s envoy in London.
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By Martin Banks

Martin Banks is a senior reporter at the Parliament Magazine

05 Feb 2021

Speaking in the European parliament on Thursday, Piri called on the UK to grant the EU’s ambassador to the country full diplomatic status after the British government recently declined to accord him those rights.

Boris Johnson’s government is refusing to grant full diplomatic status to Joao Vale de Almeida arguing that the EU is an organisation, rather than a country and should be treated differently from Sovereign nations under the Vienna Convention.

During a debate on Brexit, Piri said that future relations with the UK depended on “trust” between the two sides.

She added, “So I call on the UK to ensure that the ambassador in London receives full diplomatic privileges as is customary at all of the EU’s 140-plus permanent representations around the world.”

In the debate on the Brexit Trade deal agreed on Christmas Eve, she said the European Parliament had “consistently made clear that it will comprehensively scrutinise every detail of this deal.”

The Socialist Group member added, “We welcome the fact that parliament’s red lines have been respected, but the UK has still refused to work towards a broad partnership with the EU.

“We both face collective challenges such as Russia and China that demand collective action so that is why I also urge the UK to align its sanctions policy with that of the EU.

So I call on the UK to ensure that the ambassador in London receives full diplomatic privileges as is customary at all of the EU’s 140-plus permanent representations around the world” Kati Piri MEP

“But, of course, cooperation must not stop at sanctions; we also need a strong security and defence partnership with the UK and that too requires trust.”

Christophe Hansen, an EPP Luxembourg member, pledged that parliament’s scrutiny of the Brexit trade deal “will not be a rubberstamping exercise, unlike in the UK where MPs had only one day to discuss the agreement.”

He said, “We have two months, maybe longer, to scrutinise things; that is necessary because, as we have seen, there are many elements coming up all the time.”

He said it may be the March plenary when MEPs will get a chance to vote on the agreement. MEPs must, by law, approve the Brexit agreement.

The meeting was called to give committee rapporteurs a chance to voice their opinion on the deal.

It was said that the UK, for example, remains “an extremely import partner” in development and humanitarian aid but that this “was not mentioned” in the deal agreed by the UK and EU.

The two lead committees, responsible for recommending consent (or not) to Parliament on the new EU-UK trade and cooperation agreement will assess each sector of the deal with the specialised committees providing opinions.

Once the Foreign Affairs and International Trade committees have approved their recommendation, the full parliament is set to vote before its provisional application lapses.

“The bureaucratic requirements have exploded since the beginning of the year, causing considerable additional costs for companies. Bureaucratic hurdles must be removed as far as possible” Holger Kunze, Head of THE Mechanical Engineering Industry Association's (VDMA) European office

Separately, Parliament will also vote on an accompanying resolution, outlining its political position, prepared by the political groups in the UK coordination group and group leaders. The new agreement has provisionally applied since 1 January.

Meanwhile, Europe’s largest industry association has warned, “Brexit is not yet cut and dried.”

The warning, from the Mechanical Engineering Industry Association (VDMA), comes with parliament currently scrutinising the deal on 24 December.

Holger Kunze, Head of VDMA's European office, warned that there were “ongoing difficulties” in trade between the EU and the UK

Kunze said, "Just weeks after the UK's exit from the EU, trade is becoming increasingly complicated and the situation more and more tense. Although the major Brexit chaos did initially not occur, the burdens for mechanical engineering companies are increasing noticeably.”

“Fitters and service staff need to get to the island quickly and without major obstacles during work assignments. However, there are still many unanswered questions as to which entry regulations currently apply and how they will be interpreted in practice. This leads to great uncertainty and makes long-term projects in particular very difficult to implement in the future.”

“The bureaucratic requirements have exploded since the beginning of the year, causing considerable additional costs for companies. Bureaucratic hurdles must be removed as far as possible.”

He said, “Brexit is not yet cut and dried. It would be helpful if the European Parliament were to approve the Trade and Cooperation Agreement quickly. But for trade and the movement of goods to function smoothly, further efforts are needed on both sides of the Channel, especially on rules for the posting of workers and the mutual recognition of test reports."

Read the most recent articles written by Martin Banks - New EU regulations on AI seek to ban mass and indiscriminate surveillance

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