Ambassadors from the 27 EU member states have unanimously backed the post-Brexit trade and security deal, paving the way for the new arrangements to come into force on 1 January.
At a meeting in Brussels, the 27 member states gave their support for the 1,246-page treaty to be “provisionally applied” at the end of the year. The decision will be formally completed by written procedure at 3pm central European time (1400 GMT) on Tuesday.
The deal sets the framework for trade once the UK leaves the EU single market and customs union in four days' time.
The only barrier standing in the way of the deal coming into force are votes by MPs and peers in the House of Commons and the House of Lords. The UK parliament has been recalled to sit on Wednesday 30 December to debate and vote on the legislation.
The only obstacles standing in the way of the deal now coming into force are votes by MPs and peers in the House of Commons and the House of Lords. The UK parliament has been recalled to sit on Wednesday 30 December to debate and vote on the legislation.
UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson said that he had spoken to European Council President Charles Michel about the deal and its forthcoming ratification by EU governments.
Mr Johnson said that he welcomed the importance of the UK/EU Agreement as a new starting point for a relationship between 'sovereign equals'.
"We looked forward to the formal ratification of the agreement and to working together on shared priorities, such as tackling climate change.
In an interview with the French newspaper Le Figaro, Michel Barnier said there was a risk that the treaty would lead to a rancorous EU-UK relationship, given the options to apply tariffs in the event of regulatory divergence over time.
“There is evidently a risk … but I won’t make any unfounded accusations here. This agreement must be the basis of a smart and sustainable cooperation between Europe and the UK,” the EU chief negotiator said.
Barnier said he had mixed feelings about the deal. “Can we be happy about a divorce?” he said. The deal, he said, had been “on the verge of breakup several times” including “a month ago and in Brussels more recently”.
The new trade deal enables the UK to continue selling goods to the EU market - the UK's biggest trade partner - without tariffs or quotas. It will also ensure continued smooth transport links between the UK and EU, including safeguards on passenger rights.
The new deal however, also means that there will be new paperwork and other barriers for UK businesses in Europe, including financial services, which employs more than a million people in the UK.
It will also reduce UK access to EU programmes in various fields, including policing and education.