Euro MPs – including 73 British MEPs – cried, embraced, and bid farewell singing “Auld Lang Syne” in parliament after ratifying in Brussels, the Brexit Withdrawal Agreement with 621 votes in favor.
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen underlined that the approval of the Brexit deal was “only a first step” towards a new partnership between the two sides, adding that “we will always love you and we will not be far”.
It is “sad to see a country leaving that has twice given its blood to liberate Europe”, said Parliament’s Brexit spokesman, Guy Verhofstadt, adding that British MEPs had brought “wit, charm, and intelligence” as well as “stubbornness”, and would be missed.
Earlier this week, the EU appointed the first post-Brexit envoy in London, Portuguese diplomat Joao Vale de Almeida.
As of February 1, the UK enters a transition period set to expire at the end of the year: all deals between the UK and the EU should be fully concluded by then and ready to take effect on 1 January 2021.
It should be reminded that travel between the UK and the EU will continue as usual throughout the transition period and until agreements are put in place.