EU chiefs sign post-Brexit UK trade deal

Kalila Sangster
·2 min read
BRUSSELS, Dec. 24, 2020 -- European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen attends a press conference on the post-Brexit trade talks in Brussels, Belgium, Dec. 24, 2020. European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said on Thursday that the bloc has reached a fair and balanced agreement with the United Kingdom, after a prolonged last-minute negotiation over the sticking points regarding the future relationship. (Photo by Zheng Huansong/Xinhua via Getty) (Xinhua/Zheng Huansong via Getty Images)
European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen. Photo: Zheng Huansong/Xinhua via Getty

The European Union’s top officials officially signed the post-Brexit trade deal with the United Kingdom on Wednesday.

European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen and European Council president Charles Michel formally signed the documents on Wednesday morning during a brief signature ceremony in Brussels.

The trade agreement documents will then be flown across the Channel to London in an RAF plane for UK prime minister Boris Johnson to sign.

On Wednesday, the UK parliament will debate and vote on the agreement setting up new trade rules between the 27-nation bloc and the UK now that Britain has formally left the EU.

The deal needs to be approved by the UK parliament, and by the EU’s legislature. However, the EU is not expected to take up the deal for weeks.

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Britain and the European Union agreed the historic post-Brexit trade deal on Christmas Eve.

“We’ve taken back control of our laws and our destiny,” said UK prime minister Boris Johnson in a press conference unveiling the zero-tariff, zero-quota deal.

He called the agreement a “jumbo Canada-style” deal that would preserve £660bn ($895bn) of cross-border trade while allowing Britain to strike deals elsewhere, set its own rules and catch more fish in UK waters.

Johnson said it meant “a new stability and a new certainty” in a relationship that had been “fractious” between Britain and the EU.

UK chancellor Rishi Sunak said on Sunday that the Brexit agreement between Britain and the European Union will see changes in the financial world, and allow the country to “do things differently.”

READ MORE: Rishi Sunak says Brexit deal will see changes in financial world

It comes as prime minister Boris Johnson conceded that his trade deal with the EU may fall short of his desires for the sector.

Sunak has vowed to make the City of London “the most attractive place” to list new firms.

Johnson said that the trade agreement secures “access for solicitors, barristers” and a “good deal” for digital.

Johnson hinted at a potential overhaul of the tax and regulatory system for businesses. He said that Sunak was now conducting a “big exercise on all of this,” suggesting changes could come as early as the Budget in March.

However, he admitted that the deal doesn’t “perhaps go as far as we would like” on financial services.

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