European parliament to vote on EU-UK trade deal on 27 April: the long, bumpy road to ratification

Fri 23 Apr 2021
Posted by: Noelle McElhatton
Trade News

The final step in the ratification of the EU-UK Trade and Co-operation Agreement is expected to take place next on Tuesday 27 April when the European Parliament votes on it.

Political group leaders agreed on Thursday to put the vote on the deal and a related resolution to the parliament’s full chamber next Tuesday, Reuters reports.

'No vote' threat

The threat of no vote had been hanging over the ratification as delaying the vote was mooted in response to the UK’s unilateral suspension of elements of the NI Protocol - see timeline below.

A failure to vote this month would mean the trade deal would not apply, with the UK and EU resorting to trade with tariffs and quotas. 

The extended ratification period is due to close at the end of April, but the European Parliament is expected to give the deal its assent after it passed through two key committees last week, according to Politico

Trade committee chair Bernd Lange said: “EU-UK negotiations regarding Northern Ireland are also on track and a solution is in sight. The UK no longer wants to take unilateral measures.”

Final step

The Parliament’s foreign affairs and trade committees voted in favour of the agreement last week, paving the way for its expected ratification by the plenary.

According to website, Lange said that ratification now makes sense and the focus now will be on implementation and shaping relations for the benefit of both EU and UK citizens.

The deal, which has already been ratified by the UK, conditionally came into force on December 31, 2020.

Timeline to the trade deal

23 June 2016 – UK votes to leave the EU

29 March 2017 – Prime Minister Theresa May triggers Article 50 to begin two year countdown to leaving


14 March – UK government seeks permission from the EU to extend Article 50 and agree a later Brexit date

20 March PM Theresa May writes to European Council President Donald Tusk, asking to extend Article 50 until 30 June 2019

2 April –  PM announced she will seek a further extension to the Article 50 process

10 April –  UK and EU27 agree to extend Article 50 until 31 October 2019

24 May – Theresa May resigns as PM

24 July – Boris Johnson becomes Prime Minister after winning Conservative leadership contest

19 October – Johnson's new Brexit deal is beaten in the Commons

28 October – EU Ambassadors agreed a further Brexit extension to 31 January 2020

12 December – Johnson wins UK General Election and says he will ‘get Brexit done’ by 31 January 2020


23 January – the European Union (Withdrawal Agreement) Act 2020 receives Royal Assent

11pm, 31 January – the UK formally leaves the EU and enters a transition period

30 December – EU–UK Trade and Cooperation Agreement (TCA) is signed, with UK parliament ratifying it that day

11pm, 31 December – Transition period ends and the UK leaves the EU single market and customs union 


3 March – UK unilaterally extends grace period for supermarket agri-food from Great Britain to Northern Ireland from April 1 to October 1

EU says UK grace period extension breaches international law

9 March – UK exporters urge Lord Frost to cool trade tensions with Brussels

15 March – European Commission sends UK a formal notice of legal action for breach of its obligations under the NI Protocol

14 April – EU parliament again refuses to set date for ratifying Brexit trade deal amid concerns over UK conduct

27 April – European Parliament due to ratify TCA deal