The European Union’s visa policy has developed serious problems concerning readmission and the reliance on private subcontractors, to the detriment of those wishing to enter Europe legally. This is the fourth and last part of our series dedicated to the possible consequences of the new European Pact on Migration and Asylum.New trade arrangements between the EU and UK will come into force at midnight after a post-Brexit deal was signed into law by the British parliament.
Although the European Parliament has begun its scrutiny of the 1,246-page document – which has the backing of all 27 EU member states – Brussels will not get a chance to formally ratify the deal until early in the new year.
British MPs, however, were recalled from their Christmas break Wednesday for an emergency one-day session to approve the measure, which ensures that Britain and the EU can continue to trade goods after 1 January without tariffs or quotas.
By 12.25am Thursday morning, the Queen had given her royal assent to the UK-EU bill, cementing it into British law.
Ursula von der Leyen and Charles Michel, the heads of the European Commission and European Council, were the first to sign off on the Trade and Cooperation Agreement before it was flown to London.
Michel said the European Union had displayed an “unprecedented level of unity” during months of intense negotiations to reach the deal, which comes four-and-a-half years after the UK voted to leave the EU in a referendum.
“It is a fair and balanced agreement that fully protects the fundamental interests of the European Union and creates stability and predictability for citizens and companies.”
Following a frantic 14-hour parliamentary process in London, during which a bill adapted from the trade deal was written, voted on, and signed into law, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said the UK’s destiny was no in its own hands.
“We take on this duty with a sense of purpose and with the interests of the British public at the heart of everything we do,” he said.
The agreement averts a so-called “hard Brexit” which would have seen quotas and tariffs slapped on all cross-Channel trade from 11pm GMT (midnight Brussels), exacerbating strains in the middle of the coronavirus pandemic.