Brexit: European presidents sign withdrawal agreement
Michel and von der Leyen sign document ahead of Britain’s exit from EU next week
The presidents of the European Council and the European Commission have formally signed the Brexit withdrawal agreement ahead of Britain’s departure from the EU next week.
The European Parliament is now expected to vote to approve the agreement on Wednesday, paving the way for the UK to leave on Friday next week, January 31st.
It will mark the start of an 11-month transition period, during which the UK will continue to follow EU rules, before the final break with Brussels at the end of the year.
Today I signed the UK Withdrawal Agreement for the EU together with @vonderleyen— Charles Michel (@eucopresident) January 24, 2020
Things will inevitably change but our friendship will remain. We start a new chapter as partners and allies.
Hâte d’écrire ensemble cette nouvelle page. pic.twitter.com/a7zmGeBwZS
.@eucopresident Charles Michel and I have just signed the Agreement on the Withdrawal of the UK from the EU, opening the way for its ratification by the European Parliament. pic.twitter.com/rEqnUnJA2E— Ursula von der Leyen (@vonderleyen) January 24, 2020
British prime minister Boris Johnson has said that he wants to negotiate a comprehensive free trade deal with the EU by the end of the year.
However, Ms von der Leyen and other senior EU figures have warned the British government’s stated intention to end the UK’s alignment with EU regulations means it will be impossible to achieve within such a tight timetable.
Mr Johnson, however, remains upbeat, insisting Britain can now move forward after years of wrangling over Brexit.
“At times it felt like we would never cross the Brexit finish line, but we’ve done it,” he said.
“Now we can put the rancour and division of the past three years behind us and focus on delivering a bright, exciting future.”–PA