EU Leaders Formally Sign Post-Brexit Trade Agreement

EU Leaders Formally Sign Post-Brexit Trade Agreement
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and European Council President Charles Michel show signed EU-UK Trade and Cooperation Agreements at the European Council headquarters in Brussels on Dec. 30, 2020. (Johanna Geron/Pool Photo via AP)
Alexander Zhang

Top European Union officials on Wednesday formally signed the EU-UK agreement on post-Brexit trade relations, which will come into effect after the Brexit transition period ends on Dec. 31.

The 1,240-page agreement, reached on Christmas Eve, was signed by European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and Charles Michel, president of the European Council, an EU body that comprises the heads of state of the EU member countries.

The document will then be taken to London by a Royal Air Force plane to be signed by Prime Minister Boris Johnson, before being provisionally applied as of Jan. 1, 2021.

“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,” said Michel. “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.”
Michel said that the EU “stands ready to work shoulder to shoulder” with the UK on major issues, such as the global response to the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus pandemic.

The EU will also seek cooperation with the UK on specific foreign policy issues “based on shared values and interests,” he said.

The agreement will be examined by the European Parliament in early 2021, before it can be formally ratified by the EU.

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.