The Comprehensive Progressive Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) is a comprehensive free trade agreement which went into force in December 2018. Its membership consists of 11 Pacific Rim countries: Australia, Canada, Japan, Mexico, New Zealand, Singapore, Vietnam, Brunei, Chile, Malaysia and Peru, together comprising roughly 13 per cent of the world’s GDP. Despite having no geographical presence in the Pacific (unless you include the British Overseas Territory the Pitcairn Islands), the UK submitted formal notice to join the CPTPP in February 2021, a centrepiece of its ‘Global Britain’ trade strategy.
After four years of turbulent discussions and 1,400 pages of complex provisions, the EU and the UK (the “Parties”) signed the Trade and Cooperation Agreement (TCA) on 24 December 2020. Now that the much-feared risk of a no-deal Brexit seems to have been avoided, it could be high time to start digging into the details of the TCA and critically assess whether it is an effective and all-encompassing regulation or just a “platform” created in view of future negotiations and developments in the EU/UK (trading) relationships.
The deal between the UK and the EU has not put an end to their talks. As negotiations will continue on a number of fronts, UK-EU parliamentary cooperation will be essential to ensure that citizens’ interests are taken into account. The EU-UK Trade and Cooperation Agreement (TCA) sets out that the European Parliament and the UK Parliament may establish a Parliamentary Partnership Assembly (PPA) that would provide a forum for exchanges of views. It is still unclear whether and when a PPA will be created. As the TCA suggests, its establishment appears to be voluntary and at the discretion of the legislatures from both sides. So far, the parliamentary dimension within the overarching governance of the TCA has remained at an embryonic stage, leaving many questions unanswered. Yet the PPA would not be the only channel for parliamentary cooperation and other formats could develop.