Brussels, 24 January 2020 (dpa/MIA) – European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and European Council President Charles Michel signed the divorce deal for Britain to leave the EU on Friday, one of several final steps required before Brexit in a week’s time.
“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,” von der Leyen wrote on Twitter.
The parliament is due to cast its final vote on the withdrawal agreement next Wednesday. The plenary is expected to pass the deal. As a final step, it then requires the formal adoption of the remaining 27 EU member states.
Under the deal, Britain will leave the European Union at midnight (2300 GMT) on January 31. A transition period then kicks in, until at least December 31, 2020, giving the two sides time to negotiate their future relationship.
“Things will inevitably change but our friendship will remain. We start a new chapter as partners and allies,” Michel tweeted.
The British parliament has already ratified the Brexit withdrawal deal.
The legal text runs to more than 500 pages and specifies the details of Britain’s departure, including key provisions on citizens’ rights, arrangements to maintain the peace along Ireland’s land border with the United Kingdom and Britain’s remaining financial obligations.