The European Parliament passed the first post-Brexit trade deal with the UK Wednesday—the Trade and Cooperation Agreement. The deal was agreed to on December 31, 2020, and was ratified by the European Parliament on April 28 by a vote of 660 for, five against.
This deal was provisionally enacted in January in order to minimize trade disruptions between the EU Union and the UK. Provisional approval was set to expire on April 30, so the European Parliament’s ratification ensures that the flow of trade between the EU and the UK will continue uninterrupted.
This agreement allows for British goods to continue to be imported to the EU provided they comply with the relevant rules of origin. Moreover, provisions were made for the fishing, energy, and air traffic sectors. However, important markets like financial and legal services are not addressed in this deal.
The Trade and Cooperation Agreement addresses other key aspects of international trade, including intellectual property protections and road transportation provisions. Delays at the Port of Dover, which links the UK and mainland Europe, severely impacted the trade of perishable goods. Increased delay as a result of new import procedures has caused the import of British dairy products to the EU to plummet. The transportation of goods is especially important to the trading environment in Northern Ireland, the only part of the UK to share a land border with an EU country.
Beyond international trade provisions, the Trade and Cooperation Agreement also provides for a framework governing law enforcement matters, which will allow UK and EU policing agencies to coordinate in the future.
Further trade agreements will be necessary as important sectors of the UK economy, such as legal and financial services, were left unaddressed. Currently, legal and financial service companies based in the UK are subject to the same restrictions as other firms outside of the EU.