Brussels - The 27 EU ambassadors on Monday began the process to provisionally apply the post-Brexit agreement with Britain starting January 1, an EU presidency spokesperson said.
Approval of the EU-UK trade deal
"EU Ambassadors have unanimously approved the provisional application of the EU-UK Trade and Cooperation Agreement as of January 1, 2021," spokesperson for the German presidency of the Council of the EU, Sebastian Fischer, said on Twitter.
After a trade deal between the European Union and Britain was only thrashed out on December 24, time is too short for the agreement to be ratified in time.
Britain will leave the EU's single market and customs union on January 1 after an 11-month transition period runs out.
The European Parliament will still have to give the green light, but as this will only happen in the new year, the provisional application will be necessary.
Both the UK and EU need some time
The European Commission has suggested a provisional application period until February 28 to give the parliament time vet the agreement.
Britain also still needs to ratify the agreement. London has recalled its parliament for December 30.
To launch the written procedure to allow for the provisional application in itself requires at least informal unanimity; a positive decision is therefore likely. It is expected on Tuesday afternoon.
The envisaged free trade deal means that there will be no tariffs and quotas imposed between the bloc and Britain. The agreement also sets out a host of other issues, including fisheries, security, and competition clauses.