EU parliament in wait-and-see mode on Brexit trade talks

FILE PHOTO: European Parliament President David Sassoli speaks during a debate on next EU council and last Brexit development during a plenary session at the European Parliament in Brussels, Belgium November 25, 2020. Olivier Hoslet/Pool via REUTERS

BRUSSELS (Reuters) -The European Parliament is in wait-and-see mode on EU-UK trade negotiations, the head of the chamber said on Monday, adding the lawmakers will act on Brexit whether there is an agreement or not.

“We will have to see if we are close to a deal with the UK,” European Parliament head, David Sassoli, told a news conference. “In case of a deal or no deal, it’s clear that the parliament will have to take initiatives. Either to support this so-called agreement or to support the emergency measures in the absence of an agreement.”

The bloc has long said it wants to safeguard the chamber’s right to exercise democratic oversight by voting on any deal sealed by the EU and UK negotiators. With time running out, however, that is increasingly in doubt.

The 27 EU member states could still endorse any agreement on their own to allow for “provisional application”, a scenario that would upset the European Parliament.

“We are waiting for messages from the UK and now a little more time is needed. The European Union always thought a deal was better than no deal. The parliament, in the name of citizens, needs to know all details of the deal,” Sassoli said.

The parliament’s Brexit group discussed the latest with the bloc’s negotiator, Michel Barnier, earlier on Monday and would meet again later this week.

“In order to be prepared for every eventuality, the European Parliament will adopt (no-deal) contingency measures on Friday,” said the head of the group, David McAllister.

“However, an ambitious and balanced agreement that ensures fair conditions is in the best interest of EU citizens and businesses.”

Reporting by Marine Strauss, Writing by Gabriela Baczynska