On Tuesday, Czechia sent its formal consent with the agreement between the European Union and the United Kingdom, which regulates, among other things, future trade relations after Britain leaves the Union. Czech Foreign Minister Tomáš Petříček added that all EU member states had already agreed to the convention. The British Parliament will approve the agreement on Wednesday.
EU member states had to formally approve the agreement, which was unanimously endorsed by EU countries’ representatives on Monday. Nothing is thus preventing the document from coming into force. Even without the consent of the European Parliament, which will approve the agreement later, the convention can be valid from Jan. 1. The more than 1,200-pages-long document ensures trouble-free trading across the English Channel, unburdened by customs duties. The agreement also clarifies mutual relations in, for example, the fishery, energy and transport sectors as well as judicial and police cooperation. As the Echo24 news outlet reported, Czech politicians welcome the agreement, pointing out, among other things, the economic consequences in case the negotiations would fail. According to Prime Minister Andrej Babiš, the agreement is excellent news for all businessmen and citizens.
Petr Fiala, chairman of the main opposition party of Civic Democrats (ODS), also emphasized the importance of the document. “We have strong economic relations with the United Kingdom, it is an important country for our export, many of our citizens operate there. The agreement is important to us,” said Fiala. According to MEP Jan Zahradil, if the negotiations would fail, it would be another blow to both economies affected by the coronavirus crisis. “Let’s not examine which side made more compromises, but let’s start the ratification process quickly,” Zahradil urged. Freedom and Direct Democracy (SPD) Chairman Tomio Okamura believes that, after Brexit, the UK had a more advantageous bargaining position than the EU. According to him, the EU states would be negatively affected as, for example, France, Germany, Belgium, and the Netherlands would suffer heavy losses without reaching an agreement. “In Germany alone, half a million jobs are dependent on Great Britain, so the agreement has given the EU a break, at least for a while. It has also become clear that Brexit has been good for Great Britain, and the country has become stronger,” Okamura said. “An agreement is always better than a dispute,” stressed the chairman of the Communist Party (KSČM), Vojtěch Filip, while Communist Party MEP Kateřina Konečná said that Brexit would hurt a little less with an agreement. “I was worried about the complete loss of trust between the two parties and the negative effects on the economy and the lives of citizens,” she explained, adding that it is important that the UK remains EU’s partner.
Title image: European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, left, and European Council President Charles Michel show signed EU-UK Trade and Cooperation Agreement at the European Council headquarters in Brussels, Wednesday, Dec. 30, 2020. (Johanna Geron, Pool Photo via AP)