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Tuesday, 27 April 2021 - Brussels Provisional edition

The EU-UK Trade and Cooperation Agreement - The outcome of EU-UK negotiations (debate)

  Terry Reintke (Verts/ALE). – Madam President, again and again people ask me, like probably many of you: what advantages does it actually have for me that we are part of the European Union? I would then usually highlight things like the political cooperation between neighbouring countries that has led to a long-lasting peace inside of the EU, the obvious economic advantages, freedom of movement for EU citizens, the Erasmus programme, practical things like the abolishment of roaming charges, and so on and so on.

With Brexit, more and more of really everyday life examples pile up, like for example this dress. I ordered it in January online from a small-scale tailor in England for EUR 90. I received it about a month later and had to pay EUR 48 of fees and taxes – more than half of its original price. I honestly thought that this cannot be true, so I contacted the Belgian customs authorities, and here is their reply to my request: ‘Dear Sir/Madam, your package arrived on 16 February 2021 and unfortunately has to be cleared through customs. If this parcel had arrived before 1 January 2021 it would have been free of taxes.’ Just another example of the obvious.

Brexit is not a project of freedom, it is a project of building barriers. Brexit is not a project of prosperity, it is a project of bureaucracy. Brexit is not making Britain big and global, it is making it smaller and inward-looking. And this deal can, unfortunately, not change any of this – but it can be a starting point for moving back closer together, for rebuilding what Brexit has destroyed.

This deal might not be a final answer to the challenges that lie ahead of all of us, but it can be a basis for conversation. So let us take this deal, expand it where it is incomplete, change it where it needs changing, and build a relationship that can actually be sustainable and mutually beneficial again.

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