European Council approves provisional application of trade deal with UK

File photo shows the European Union flag and the Union Jack flag outside the Houses of Parliament in London, Britain. (Xinhua/Han Yan/ians)

The European Council announced that it has adopted a decision on the signing of the EU-UK Trade and Cooperation Agreement and its provisional application as of January 1, 2021.

The agreement will now be signed by the two parties on Wednesday, Xinhua news agency quoted the statement as saying on Tuesday.

European Council President Charles Michel and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen will sign in Brussels on behalf of the European Union (EU), while Prime Minister Boris Johnson will sign in London on behalf of the US, the statement added.

“Next Brexit Deal hurdle cleared: EU member states have given the final green light by written procedure to the provisional application of the EU-UK Trade and Cooperation Agreement as of 1 January 2021,” Sebastian Fischer, spokesperson for the German Presidency of the EU Council, tweeted on Tuesday.

Next year, the Council will adopt the decision on the conclusion of the EU-UK Trade and Cooperation Agreement, once the European Parliament gives its consent and all procedures necessary for the entry into force have been completed, according to the statement.

The fast-track procedures were adopted in the EU as the post-Brexit agreement was only reached a week before the transitional period expires on December 31 or Wednesday.

After months of negotiations, on December 24 the EU and the UK announced the reaching of an agreement that will govern bilateral trade and security relationship starting from January 1, 2021.

The deal will need the approval of the European Parliament, the UK Parliament and the EU’s 27 member states.

The free trade deal is the biggest bilateral trade deal signed by either side, covering trade worth around 668 billion pounds ($905 billion).

The UK is the EU’s third largest trading partner in goods, after the US and China.

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