The European Union’s top officials have formally signed the post-Brexit trade deal with the UK.
European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen and European Council president Charles Michel put pen to paper on Wednesday morning during a brief signature ceremony in Brussels.
The documents will be flown across the Channel to London in an RAF plane for Prime Minister Boris Johnson to sign.
The UK Parliament will later start debating the agreement setting up new trade rules between the 27-nation bloc and the former member.
Today, @eucopresident and I signed the EU-UK Trade and Cooperation Agreement.
Prime Minister @BorisJohnson will sign it later today in London.
It has been a long road. It’s time now to put Brexit behind us.
Our future is made in Europe. pic.twitter.com/fjybWryJNY
— Ursula von der Leyen (@vonderleyen) December 30, 2020
The agreement needs approval from Parliament, and from the EU’s legislature, which is not expected to take up the deal for weeks.
“The agreement that we signed today is the result of months of intense negotiations in which the European Union has displayed an unprecedented level of unity,” Mr Michel said. “It is a fair and balanced agreement that fully protects the fundamental interests of the European Union and creates stability and predictability for citizens and companies.”
The 1,240-page post-Brexit deal was sealed by the EU and the UK on Christmas Eve, just a week before the year-end deadline.
“On major issues, the European Union stands ready to work shoulder to shoulder with the United Kingdom,” Mr Michel added.
“This will be the case on climate change, ahead of the Cop26 in Glasgow, and on the global response to pandemics, in particular with a possible treaty on pandemics. On foreign affairs, we will seek co-operation on specific issues based on shared values and interests.”