BRUSSELS European Union member state ambassadors spent Christmas Day being briefed on the Brexit deal struck late Thursday with the United Kingdom in what was the first step by Brussels to prepare the document for provisional approval by Jan. 1, 2021.
Sebastian Fischer, the spokesperson for Germanys current tenure of the rotating presidency of the Council of EU, tweeted: EU member states will now start a preliminary review of the draft texts of the different Brexit deal agreements.
This exercise will take a few days as the core agreement on EU trade and cooperation already comprises 1,246 pages of legal text.
The EUs chief negotiator Michel Barnier began to brief the EU delegates just a day after the deal was finally agreed.
European sources said those taking part in the brief thanked Barnier and his team for their work since the 2016 Brexit referendum and highlighted the importance of having remained united throughout the process.
The members asked the European Commission for time to study the text and for a list of the most important measures member states should adopt to be ready on Jan. 1, when the UK will become a third-party country for good.
They also requested that 5 billion set aside in the EU budget to protect member states most exposed to the economic damage Brexit entails be put on offer quickly.
Barnier acknowledged that Brexit was a loss to both sides of the negotiating table, but insisted that the deal found was reasonable and protected EU interests.
EU Ambassadors praised Michel Barnier and the EU negotiation team for their resilience and steadfastness under intense pressure during the Brexit negotiations with the UK, Fischer added in a tweet.
The German presidency penned a letter to the European Parliament informing of the EUs intentions to apply the new deal provisionally on Jan. 1 before it is put before MEPs during a plenary session slated for Jan. 18-21.
According to diplomatic sources, the provisional application of the deal will also allow for a complete democratic scrutiny of the accord on the part of the European Commission and Parliament before it is fully ratified.
The European Parliament had planned to ratify a deal before the end of the year, but the date was pushed back as an agreement only came late on Christmas Eve.
The UKs main opposition Labour Party has signaled it would back the Brexit deal struck by the Conservative government of Prime Minister Boris Johnson, meaning it should have few issues gaining approval in the House of Commons.