Leaders called the agreement with London the best possible

Photo: EU Press conference of Presidents Tusk and Juncker, and the EU's chief negotiator Barnier, after the summit.

At their special summit on Sunday morning in Brussels the leaders of the EU 27 sealed the withdrawal agreement of London from the EU and the European Atomic Energy Community, and also signed a Political Declaration that sets the direction of the future relations between the two sides. After doing this they held a short meeting with British Prime Minister Theresa May. It is expected the divorce deal to guarantee a smooth departure of the UK on 30 March 2019. 

As it was specified by the European Council President Donald Tusk the agreement for withdrawal aims to minimise the uncertainty and disruption caused by Brexit for the EU citizens, businesses and member countries and to settle the status of EU citizens who live, work and study in the UK with reciprocal guarantees.

The accord is making sure that the UK honours all financial commitments and liabilities and avoiding a hard border between Northern Ireland and Ireland and will prevent a legal vacuum for the European companies. The document foresees that during the transition period, which can be extended by one or two years, the UK will continue its payments to the EU budget and legal certainty will be secured.

During the press conference after the summit President Tusk explained that “the European Council restated the Union's determination to have as close as possible a partnership with the United Kingdom in the future.” Ahead of us is the difficult process of ratification as well as further negotiations, he said, noting that regardless of how it will all end, one thing is certain: “we will remain friends until the end of days, and one day longer.”

On his part Jean-Claude Juncker, EC President, stressed that it is a “sad day” and that the withdrawal is “not a glorious moment”, but he also pointed out that it is “the best deal possible”. He added that the EU and the UK will remain friends and the UK will not be “like the others third countries."

The EU’s Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier received special thanks by the European Council “for his tireless efforts as the Union's chief negotiator and for his contribution to maintaining the unity among EU27 Member States throughout the negotiations on the withdrawal of the United Kingdom from the European Union.” At the press conference Barnier stated that this deal is “fair and balanced” and the best possible given the circumstances.

The divorce deal have to be ratified by the British Parliament and the European Parliament. EP President Antonio Tajani affirmed at the summit that “should the agreement be approved by the UK Parliament, we too will quickly be able to complete the assent procedure”, mentioning that it could be done even in January next year.

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