EYEAFRICA TV:Brussels, Belgium: The European Parliament on Wednesday approved the Withdrawal Agreement between the European Union (EU) and the United Kingdom, taking the Brexit process one step closer to be completed.
The vote was 621 in favor, 49 against and 13 abstentions. According to the agreement, the UK will formally leave the EU at GMT 23:00 on Friday.
After the vote, a chorus of Auld Lang Syne sung by MEPs reverberated across the legislature’s Hemicycle chamber in Brussels.
According to the European Parliament, the agreement still needs to be “subject to a final vote (by qualified majority) in the Council” of the EU on Thursday.
After leaving the EU, the UK will immediately enter an 11-month transition period and the two sides will have negotiations on their future relations.
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen stressed on the occasion that the precondition to reach a mutual beneficial trade agreement between EU and the UK is that both sides’ enterprises are able to compete fairly.
“We are considering a free trade agreement with zero tariffs and zero quotas. This would be unique. No other free trade agreement offers such an access to our single market, but the precondition is that European and British businesses continue to compete on a level playing field. We will certainly not expose our companies to unfair competition,” she said.