Minister for European Affairs Tytti Tuppurainen (SDP) pointed out the newly ironed out agreement is unusual in that its purpose is not to remove obstacles to trading but rather to establish a less trade-friendly framework for relations between the EU and UK. (Emmi Korhonen – Lehtikuva)

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THE TRADE AND CO-OPERATION AGREEMENT between the European Union and United Kingdom is welcome news but no cause for celebration, says Minister for European Affairs Tytti Tuppurainen (SDP).

Tuppurainen on Saturday stated to Helsingin Sanomat that although the agreement enables trading without tariffs or quotas, it signals a significant change from trading within the internal market.

“There will be some negative impacts and companies, especially, must be prepared for them. This partnership agreement is about minimising the damage,” she underscored.

Tuppurainen tweeted earlier that the mutually beneficial agreement will be presented almost without delay to the Finnish Parliament. Although all member states were informed about the negotiations, the language of the treaty will also have to be reviewed at the national level, she explained.

“That work will start immediately. The agreement must be approved by both the council of EU member states and European Parliament.”

All member states, she added, will do their utmost to ensure the agreement can be adopted on a temporary basis immediately at the beginning of next year.

Tuppurainen also reminded that although the painstaking negotiations came to a successful conclusion, the agreement does add distance between the two parties. “A more distant relationship is the inevitable outcome of the political desire of the UK,” she said.

As the United Kingdom remains a key trade partner for Finland and the European Union, she highlighted, a failure to come to an agreement on the variety of issues on the table, such as fishing rights and business rules, would have created considerable uncertainty and unpredictability.

“That’s why we have to be satisfied that a common understanding on the agreement was found,” she said.

The draft agreement was presented to representatives of the member states on Christmas Day by Michael Barnier, the chief negotiator for the European Union.

“The agreement has only just been submitted to member states. We’ve gotten a link to material that consists of over 2,000 pages,” commented Tuppurainen. “Not a single member state is naturally yet able to confirm that it approves the agreement, even thought he initial reactions have been positive.”

Tuppurainen viewed that perhaps the most significant outcome of the painstaking process is that member states did not begin to compete against each other but remained a unified front in regards to the United Kingdom.

“It’s also an indication that the European Union does not crumble because of the departure of such a central power as the United Kingdom. The union can withstand that,” she affirmed.

Aleksi Teivainen – HT