The European Parliament could sit between Christmas and New Year’s Eve to ratify a post-Brexit trade deal between the UK and EU, a senior German MEP has said.
David McAllister, of the parliament’s UK co-ordination group, said, amid crunch negotiations, that a no-deal outcome would have “severe consequences” for both sides.
He said MEPs would be “flexible” to ensure any agreement is ratified before the transition period ends on December 31 but they would probably need 48 hours to scrutinise and vote on a deal.
In an interview with the PA news agency in Brussels, Mr McAllister said: “The European Parliament needs sufficient time to scrutinise an agreement and as long as there is no agreement there is no text.
“We are ready to be as flexible as possible. We are ready to work with an English text which hasn’t been legally scrubbed yet to prepare our final vote in the plenary but of course this all requires time and every day now counts.
“We are ready to organise an additional extraordinary plenary session between Christmas and New Year if this would be necessary.”
He added: “I would say that people in the Parliament would prefer to have this meeting before Christmas Eve, say on December 23…
“My impression is if there is an agreement there will probably be an additional plenary session between Christmas and New Year.”
Mr McAllister said he “sincerely hopes” a deal is reached and that as long as both sides are talking there is “still the option to get a deal” – though he stressed that “many differences remain”.
“Of all options a no-deal Brexit would be the worst one – it would have severe consequences for the EU but especially for the UK…
“It would have negative consequences for both sides but the impact on the UK economy would be larger.”