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BRUSSELS: The EU on Wednesday moved forward with a delayed agreement with Britain to advance cooperation on financial services regulation as the two sides build on improved ties.

Brussels and London concluded an agreement known as a memorandum of understanding in March 2021 but it was never signed as relations soured quickly over the overhaul of Northern Irish trade rules.

But that issue has been resolved after the European Union and Britain formally adopted another post-Brexit trade deal in March this year, known as the “Windsor Framework”.

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London, a global financial hub, has been keen to get a deal on financial services.

The European Commission, the EU’s executive arm, on Wednesday took the first step by adopting a draft agreement. It will then need to be approved by the EU’s 27 members.

Member states could sign off on the deal at the next meeting of the bloc’s finance ministers in June.

The commission said, however, the agreement does not deal with the access of UK-based companies to the single market or vice versa.

Its completion will be a boon for Britain, demonstrating that the UK is on the right track with its largest trading partner after Brexit and the bitter rows that followed.

A senior official for the City of London corporation, the governing body of London’s financial district, hailed the development as “good news”.

“We now have the opportunity to have conversations again with Europe,” policy chairman Chris Hayward told AFP, adding: “What is important is to get the talking that leads to action.”

Once it is signed by Brussels and London, it will create a framework for voluntary regulatory cooperation in the area of financial services between the EU and the UK.

This will include a Joint EU-UK Financial Regulatory Forum where the two sides’ regulators can discuss issues related to financial services.

“The Windsor Framework allowed the EU and the UK to open a new chapter in our partnership based on a spirit of mutual trust and cooperation,” the EU’s financial services commissioner, Mairead McGuinness, said in a statement.

“I am confident that our relationship and future engagement in financial services will be built on a shared commitment to preserve financial stability, market integrity, and the protection of consumers and investors.”

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