EU ambassadors are dropping the festivities to inspect details of the landmark deal struck between the bloc and the UK a day earlier.
European Union ambassadors are set to receive a Christmas Day briefing on the post-Brexit trade deal reached between the bloc and the UK on Thursday, as the two sides move quickly to ratify the pact.
EU chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier will brief diplomats from the 27 EU member states on Friday as they begin the process of revising the agreement document.
It hasn’t been published yet, but it should be around 1,500 pages long.
Friday’s meeting in Brussels, which the group will attend in person, comes less than a day after the Brexit deal was finally sealed, after months of heated negotiations defined by divisions over fishing rights, competition rules and governance issues.
The talks went to the end, less than a week before the UK left the EU’s single market and customs union on December 31.
The deal avoids the prospect of a chaotic and acrimonious divorce at the end of this year and ensures that the UK and the EU can continue to trade goods without tariffs or quotas, smoothing out valued trade hundreds of billions of pounds – and euros – a year between the pair.
UK and EU lawmakers are now required to sign the deal.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said on Thursday he hoped the deal would go to the UK Parliament for a vote next week, on December 30, just a day before the Brexit transition period expired.
MEPs are expected to sign the agreement.
Johnson’s ruling Conservative Party has a strong majority in the Legislative Chamber and the main opposition Labor Party confirmed on Thursday that it will support the deal, saying it is the only alternative to a chaotic scenario of no-deal Brexit.
On the EU side, the deal needs the approval of all EU member states and the European Parliament, which ruled out rushing ratification of the deal before the end of this year.
EU law, however, includes a mechanism for agreements to be applied provisionally without the consent of its parliament if approved by its member states.
The European Parliament said on Thursday it would analyze the deal in detail before deciding whether or not to approve the deal in the new year.
“We will act responsibly to minimize disruption to citizens and avoid the chaos of a no-deal scenario,” European Parliament President David Sassoli said on Twitter.
Essentially, the agreement is a close free trade pact surrounded by other agreements on a range of issues, including energy, transport, and police and security cooperation.
The pact will not cover services, which make up 80% of the UK economy, and there will still be major changes from January 1, when more rules and increased bureaucracy come into effect.
The way Britons and Europeans travel, live and work between the country and the continent will also change from the start of next year.
If the UK and EU had failed to compromise, a no-deal Brexit scenario would have forced them to negotiate by default under World Trade Organization (WTO) rules from January 1 .
WTO rules have reportedly brought into play financial tariffs, quotas and other regulatory barriers to trade.