First of all, I would like to express my thanks and appreciation to Michel Barnier and his team. Negotiations of this complexity normally last many years. Michel Barnier and his team have negotiated an agreement with the UK in absolute record time – despite COVID‑19. It was a negotiating marathon but done in world record time and with a lengthy final stretch. Going the much-quoted extra mile was worth the effort.
We have finally seen white smoke over the Brexit negotiations. However, the agreement is not yet sealed. Naturally, we will now closely examine the draft agreement in the EU member states. Ultimately, all 27 member states and the European Parliament have to give their seal of approval. As the holder of the Presidency of the Council of the EU, we want to help ensure a swift and efficient ratification so that the agreement can enter into force in good time as of 1 January 2021.
That will be challenging and require much flexibility on all sides. However, I am confident that this can be achieved. We are now very close to a solution which will finally bring the Brexit discussion to a close and open a new chapter in our relations with the UK. Early next year the agreement will hopefully enter into force after the vote of the European Parliament.