Ursula von der Leyen, EU Commission’s chief and Charles Michel, EU Council President formally signed on Friday the Withdrawal Agreement Bill (WAB) that paves the way for UK’s divorce from the EU on 31 January.
“Things will inevitably change but our friendship will remain. We start a new chapter as partners and allies,” tweeted Michel on Friday.
EU’s chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier was also present at the ceremony, held at the EU Commission’s headquarters.
On Thursday, the agreement was enshrined in UK law, as royal assent from the Queen was granted. The same evening, the European Parliament’s Constitutional Affairs Committee recommended that the EP plenary next week approves the deal.
With 23 votes in favour, 3 against and no abstentions, the Withdrawal agreement passed the first EP test, while the final vote to ratify the deal is scheduled for 29 January, after it is signed by UK Prime Minister, Boris Johnson.
Once the UK leaves the bloc, an 11-month transition period is foreseen for a EU-UK trade deal to be reached. During this period, the UK will be following EU rules but will not be represented in European institutions.