Brexit: the Withdrawal Agreement passes the first European Parliament test

boris johnson_

Mr Boris JOHNSON, UK Prime Minister. Copyright: European Union

This article is brought to you in association with the European Parliament.


The Constitutional Affairs Committee agreed on Thursday to recommend that the EP plenary should approve the UK withdrawal terms.

After parliamentary ratification in the UK was concluded earlier today, with Royal Assent granted for the European Union (Withdrawal Agreement) Bill, Constitutional Affairs Committee MEPs voted in favour of a positive recommendation regarding the EU-UK Withdrawal Agreement, with 23 votes for, three against and no abstentions.

The vote took place after a statement by Committee Chair Antonio Tajani (EPP, IT) and a discussion between the Parliament’s Brexit coordinator Guy Verhofstadt (Renew Europe, BE) and political group coordinators.

The debate in the Committee focussed on Parliament’s contribution to protecting citizens’ rights in the context of Brexit (with the majority of speakers during the first round commending the EU’s negotiating team), as well as the steps that should be taken by the UK and EU27 governments to continue protecting these rights during the transition period and beyond. The discussion also addressed the overall impact of Brexit and the future relationship between the EU and the UK, which is going to be the objective of the future negotiations.

You can watch the debate on EP Live. Click on the links below for specific parts of the meeting.

Opening statement by Chair Antonio Tajani

Statement by the rapporteur Guy Verhofstadt

Statements by the shadow rapporteurs

Interventions by MEPs on behalf of political groups

Recording of the vote

Statements by MEPs after the vote: part one and part two

Next steps

The UK’s withdrawal from the EU is set for midnight CET on 31 January 2020, with Parliament scheduled to vote on the Agreement next Wednesday, 29 January. To enter into force, any withdrawal agreement between the EU and the UK needs to be approved by the European Parliament by a simple majority of votes cast (Article 50 (2) of the Treaty on European Union). The Council will then conclude the process on the EU side by a qualified majority vote, foreseen for 30 January.

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