The UK’s withdrawal agreement from the European Union has been approved by EU leaders, its chief official Donald Tusk has announced.
The 27 leaders gave it their backing after less than an hour’s discussion in Brussels.
Mr Tusk signalled on Saturday that the deal would be approved after Spain withdrew last-minute concerns over Gibraltar.
The deal needs to be approved by the UK Parliament, with many MPs opposed.
Mr Tusk, the president of the European Council, broke the news on Twitter.
The EU leaders have approved the two key Brexit documents:
The EU withdrawal agreement: a 585-page, legally binding document setting out the terms of the UK’s exit from the EU. It covers the UK’s £39bn “divorce bill”, citizens’ rights and the Northern Ireland “backstop” – a way to keep the Irish border open, if trade talks stall
The political declaration, which sets out what the UK and EU’s relationship may be like after Brexit – outlining how things like UK-EU trade and security will work
There was no formal vote on Sunday, with the EU proceeding by consensus.
The conclusions at the EU Summit in Brexit are as follows:
1. The European Council endorses the Agreement on the withdrawal of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland from the European Union and the European Atomic Energy Community. On this basis, the European Council invites the Commission, the European Parliament and the Council to take the necessary steps to ensure that the agreement can enter into force on 30 March 2019, so as to provide for an orderly withdrawal.
2. The European Council approves the Political Declaration setting out the framework for the future relationship between the European Union and the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. The European Council restates the Union’s determination to have as close as possible a partnership with the United Kingdom in the future in line with the Political Declaration. The Union’s approach will continue to be defined by the overall positions and principles set out in the previously agreed European Council’s guidelines. The European Council will remain permanently seized of the matter.
3. The European Council thanks Michel Barnier 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
The UK Parliament is expected to vote on the deal in early December but its approval is by no means guaranteed. Labour, the Lib Dems, the SNP, the DUP and many Conservatives MPs are set to vote against.
Prime Minister Theresa May has appealed to the public to get behind the agreement, arguing it is the best deal she could have struck – and honours the result of the Brexit referendum.
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