A set of rules setting the terms of cooperation between the European Union and the United Kingdom was signed in Brussels on Wednesday paving the way for the continuation of smooth operations and strong ties after Brexit.
European Council President Charles Michel and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen signed the EU-UK Trade and Cooperation Agreement, which takes effect on 1 January 2021, pending the consent of the European Parliament.
“It has been a long road. It’s time now to put Brexit behind us. Our future is made in Europe,” Von der Leyen said.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson signed the deal later in London on behalf of the UK.
Earlier he had urged MPs to back the deal saying it would enable the country to maintain the closest possible relations with its neighbors while taking control of its “national destiny”.
Johnson said the agreement would provide “certainty” for businesses and protect jobs after months of negotiations over the terms of Britain’s final departure.
Speaking in parliament, Johnson said “the purpose of this bill is to accomplish something that the British people always knew in their hearts could be done and yet which we were continually told was impossible – we were told we could not have our cake and eat it – namely that we could trade and cooperate with our EU neighbors on the closest possible terms as we will while retaining sovereign control of our laws and our national destiny”.
“We are going to open a new chapter in our national story, striking free trade deals around the world and reasserting global Britain as a liberal outward-looking force for good,” said Johnson.
Britain exits the EU at 11pm tomorrow, December 31.