Brexit: Bernd Lange discusses Canada-style trade agreement
Meanwhile French MP Pierre Karleskind, an ally of President Emmanuel Macron, has lashed out at the UK – suggesting London could not be trusted on the issue of fishing. The deal was agreed at the end of last year, with Boris Johnson signing it at Downing Street as chief negotiator Lord David Frost looked on.
However, time was so short with the transition period coming to an end on December 31 that there was no time for MEPs to have their say, despite having the chance to review the 1,500-page document after it was published on December 24.
The agreement is currently being scrutinised by both the trade committee and the committee on foreign affairs, with the Parliament set to vote, either during an emergency session on February 23, or the monthly plenary which runs from March 8 to 11.
Theoretically they could torpedo the deal – although in such circumstances, the European Commission would be likely to identify a workaround solution to keep it afloat.
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French MEP Karima Delli told Le Journal De Dimanche agreement was not a foregone conclusion.
She explained: “We are discussing this draft agreement within the environmentalist family.
”Several points will be examined closely, in particular the environmental and social standards and that of personal data, then we’ll make a collective decision on whether or not to vote it.”
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This is only the beginning of scrutiny
Fellow German MEP Bernd Lange tweeted: “Good first exchange of views with @Trade_EU in @EP_Trade but still a lot of open questions and further explanations needed.
“This is only the beginning of scrutiny.
“#EP will take the time it needs to identify the necessary action to take #EU #UK.
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Speaking in the trade committee meeting, Luxembourg Christophe Hansen said: “This was the first time we were organising a divorce not a wedding, as we usually do for a trade agreement.”
Criticising the rapid implementation of the agreement, he added: “This was a strategy by the UK to get last-minute concessions, and not to have their parliament to have a proper say.
“We would have preferred a proper ratification.”
Separately, Mr Karleskind, chairman of the fisheries committee, said: “On the fisheries file, after five and a half years of transition, what assurance do we have of not being fooled by the British?
“We must understand the reality of the levers we have.”
Speaking to Express.co.uk last month, French MEP Nicolas Bay, of the right-wing National Rally party, warned European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen against trying to bypass the European Parliament.
He said: “The EU must be fully reformed and the Commission put back in its place, that of a mere secretariat implementing Council decisions.
“The fact that Brussels has the legislative initiative, as well as the executive power, is absolutely absurd.”
A European Parliament spokesman confirmed the assembly did have the right to veto the agreement.
Express.co.uk has also contacted both the European Commission.
(Additional reporting by Maria Ortega)
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