EU governments approve Brexit commerce settlement – German EU presidency

© Reuters. British Prime Minister Johnson comes to Brussels for a meeting with the President of the European Commission von der Leyen

BRUSSELS (Reuters) – The governments of the European Union on Tuesday approved a trade agreement regulating the relationship between the 27-nation bloc and the UK, paving the way for provisional application from January 1, said Foreign Minister Heiko Maas.

The agreement, which preserves the UK’s duty-free and quota-free access to the EU internal market for 450 million consumers, was reached with a narrow majority on December 24, 4 1/2 years after the British vote in a referendum on leaving the bloc.

“I am pleased that all EU-27 countries have given their approval. By joining forces, we have succeeded in preventing a chaotic turn of the year,” said Maas, whose country holds the rotating EU presidency, on Twitter.

The approval is a formality following an agreement between London and the EU last week. It is required for the provisional application of the trade agreement from next year before it is ratified by the European Parliament by the end of February.

The provisional trade agreement is due to be signed on Wednesday by EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and the chairman of EU leader Charles Michel.

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