The European Council announced Tuesday that it has adopted by written procedure the decision on the signing of the EU-UK trade deal. 

The agreement will be signed by the two parties Wednesday. European Council President Charles Michel and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen will sign in Brussels while British Prime Minister Boris Johnson will sign in London.

​​​​​​​The deal will be “provisionally” applied after the UK leaves the single market on Jan. 1, 2021.

The agreement still needs approval from the European Parliament, which is not expected to come until Feb. 28.

Post-Brexit trade talks

Britain voted to leave the EU in a hotly contested 2016 referendum by 52% to 48%. It formally left the EU at the end of January this year. Since then, it has been in a transition period, which meant that the UK still followed EU rules while it worked out a new trading arrangement.

Brussels and London reached a post-Brexit trade agreement on Dec. 24 after months of negotiations and only a week to spare until the end of the transition period.

Negotiations have been acrimonious, with disagreement focused on three key issues: fishing, which is economically unimportant but politically symbolic; the so-called level playing field, where the EU wanted to protect the integrity of the single market against unfair competition by ensuring the UK did not use excessive state subsidies or cut its regulatory standards while still having tariff- and quota-free access; and governance, which was how the deal would be enforced.

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