EU Member States Approve Brexit Trade Deal

December 29, 2020 Updated: December 30, 2020

The 27 member states of the European Union have approved the agreement with the UK on post-Brexit trade relations, German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said on Tuesday.

If the British Parliament, as is expected, passes the deal on Wednesday, it will come into effect on Jan. 1, when the UK exits the EU’s single market and the customs union at the end of the Brexit transition period.

The provisional trade deal is to be signed by EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and EU Council President Charles Michel on Wednesday, and will need to be ratified by the European Parliament by the end of February.

Maas, whose country holds the rotating EU presidency, said the EU and the UK will enter a “new comprehensive partnership.”

“On the final stretch of our EU Council Presidency, we pulled out all the stops over the holidays to ensure that the partnership agreement with the United Kingdom can be provisionally applied from Jan. 1, 2021,” he said in a statement.

“I am pleased that all 27 EU member states have given their approval today. By joining forces, we have succeeded in preventing a chaotic turn of the year. At the same time, we are buying the European Parliament more time for a close scrutiny of the agreement in the New Year,” he said.

British MPs are expected to pass the agreement on Wednesday, because the main opposition Labour party has said it will support the deal.

Labour party leader Keir Starmer said the deal is a “thin agreement” which does not provide adequate protection to British businesses and workers, but Labour will vote for it because it was better than no deal at all.

The deal has also won support from the European Research Group, a group of staunchly pro-Brexit lawmakers in Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s Conservative Party who see close ties to the EU as a threat to British sovereignty.

The group’s Legal Advisory Committee delivered its opinion on the deal on Tuesday, saying that “it is consistent the [sic] sovereignty of the United Kingdom,” ERG Deputy Chairman David Jones wrote on Twitter.

Reuters contributed to this report.