EU ambassadors on Friday raised “no objections” to the Brexit trade deal struck on Thursday and indicated that member countries will back the deal in the coming days.
The ambassadors endorsed a letter to the European Parliament stating that member countries intend to take a decision on the provisional application of the deal very soon.
The letter, signed by German Ambassador Michel Clauss, was endorsed during an unprecedented Christmas Day meeting at which Michel Barnier, the EU’s chief Brexit negotiator, briefed ambassadors on the agreement reached Thursday with the United Kingdom following 10 months of tough negotiations.
“The provisional application aims to prevent a significant disruption in EU-UK relations with severe consequences for citizens & businesses at the end of the transition period” on January 1, tweeted German Council presidency spokesperson Sebastian Fischer following the meeting. “The provisional application of the EU-UK agreement would also allow for proper and full democratic [scrutiny] of the draft agreement” by the European Parliament and Council before final ratification, he added.
Member countries’ experts now need to examine the 1,246-page deal, and a vote in Council on the provisional application of the agreement is expected in the coming days.
Ambassadors raised “no objections” and there was “a lot of praise” at the meeting, said one senior diplomat, adding that the agreement “needs to be studied” and that ambassadors plan to meet again on Monday.
A second diplomat said member countries are “still in the mode of reading the text.”
Friday’s session was the first time ever that ambassadors formally convened on Christmas Day, and some diplomats tried to bring holiday cheer to the discussions, with Austria’s Gregor Schusterschitz in a Santa Claus sweater and Greece’s Ioannis Vrailas wearing a Santa hat.
But frustration at having to work on relations with the U.K. even on Christmas Day was palpable.
Fischer, the German spokesperson, did not hide his dismay: “Looking forward to #ChristmasCoreper: Because nothing is more fun than to celebrate #Christmas among socially distanced colleagues. Thank you, #Brexit! #Typical2020,” he tweeted, along with a GIF from American TV show “The West Wing” featuring a fictional White House staffer declaring: “Well, this is bad on so many levels.”