The European Parliament has scrubbed plans for its vote on the post-Brexit trade deal between the UK and EU in protest against Boris Johnson’s unilateral decision to change parts of the Northern Ireland agreement, RTE reports.
Leaders of Europe’s political groups met on Thursday to agree on a date for the final vote to ratify the EU-UK Trade and Cooperation agreement (TCA), but elected to scrap plans for the vote after the UK unilaterally extended a grace period for checks on food imports to Northern Ireland.
The deal has provisionally been in force for two months and requires a vote in the European Parliament to become permanent.
“An agenda item on ratification does not appear on a draft agenda of the plenary session, due on March 24-25, and seen by @rtenews,” tweeted RTE journalist Tony Connelly on Thursday.
Meanwhile an unnamed EU source told The Independent, “The conference of presidents this morning decided not to agree a date to ratify the TCA, pending developments yesterday.”
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Following the meeting, Senior German socialist MEP Bernd Lange took to Twitter, claiming there would be no way for the EU to ratify the trade deal if the UK authorities continue to breach the withdrawal agreement.
The decision comes one day after PM Boris Johnson said the UK would unilaterally act to ease red tape regarding the Northern Ireland protocol in an attempt to minimize trade disruption between the mainland and Belfast.
Maros Sefcovic, vice president of the European Commission, said this represented a “violation” of the UK’s agreement with the EU.
The Northern Ireland protocol works to allow the frictionless movement of people on the island of Ireland by introducing a series of customs checks between Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK. It has been a persistent area of disagreement in the two months since London and Brussels agreed on a post-Brexit accord. The UK slammed the EU in February after the block briefly elected to trigger article 16, which would have seen a land border created on the island of Ireland to prevent Covid-19 vaccine leaving the EU.
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