David McAllister MEP: The European Union’s rights in enforcing and implementing the UK Withdrawal Agreement and the EU-UK Trade and Cooperation Agreement
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David McAllister MEP: The European Union’s rights in enforcing and implementing the UK Withdrawal Agreement and the EU-UK Trade and Cooperation Agreement

Today the European Parliament endorsed the trilogue outcome that lays down a number of unilateral measures that the EU may take in line with the Withdrawal Agreement and the Trade and Cooperation Agreement (TCA) in order to counteract non-compliance by the other party with the provisions of these agreements. Namely, there are remedial measures, rebalancing measures, countermeasures, safeguard measures, and suspension of obligations, which can be applied in order to induce compliance with the agreements without having to first resort to the relevant dispute settlement mechanism. The text will also lay down the Union’s internal procedure as to how such measures would be taken by the EU, namely with the Commission proposing implementing measures.

The draft inter-institutional agreement incorporates various issues that are important for the European Parliament: the EP’s right of scrutiny, recalling that the TCA does not cover Gibraltar nor has any effects on that territory, a reference to the Protocol on Ireland and Northern Ireland, a shorter review period and comprehensive annual reporting by the Commission. On these areas, quick agreement was reached during the trilogue negotiations. The two areas that required extensive negotiation were on the European Parliament’s right to information and the criteria laid down in the original Commission proposal that the Commission must consider before taking any action. On the former, this was of extreme importance for the European Parliament and political groups were unanimous in pushing this forward as their key objective. The outcome reached was satisfactory for the EPP and other groups and specifically states in a recital of the Regulation in what ways Parliament will be informed, in accordance with Article 218 (10) of the TFEU. That is to say, to be informed of all the difficulties that may arise, in particular possible breaches of the agreements and other situations that might result in measures being taken.

Regarding the criteria to be considered by the Commission for the proposal of measures, there was agreement from all three institutions that keeping the criteria as initially proposed by the Commission would only limit the Union’s ability to act swiftly and effectively if the UK were to breach the TCA or Withdrawal Agreements. Instead, it was decided to clarify in general that the measures must be proportionate to the objectives pursued and effective in inducing compliance.