After more than three years of political wrangling, the UK looks set to leave the European Union next week.
British prime minister Boris Johnson succeeded in getting the EU Bill through parliament yesterday (January 22nd 2020) without any changes, meaning it is now simply waiting for the formality of royal assent.
After this, president of the European Council Charles Michel is expected to sign the document along with European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen tomorrow, while MEPs will vote on it next week.On January 29th 2020, the European Parliament will meet for a debate to set out the terms of the divorce settlement from the bloc.
Mr Johnson was in a triumphant mood, having finally managed to break the deadlock that had persisted since the EU referendum that decided Britain would split from its European neighbours.
"At times it felt like we would never cross the Brexit finish line, but we've done it. Now we can put the rancour and division of the past three years behind us and focus on delivering a bright, exciting future," he commented in a statement.
As things stand, the UK will officially leave the EU at 23:00 GMT on January 31st 2020. After this, it will enter into an 11-month transition period during which it will not have representation in the bloc's institutions but will continue to abide by EU rules.
Under the revised deal negotiated by Mr Johnson, the UK will be able to sign and implement its own trade agreements as it sees fit around the world.
However, a customs and regulatory border will be created between Northern Ireland and Great Britain, which means some goods entering the former would be subject to import tariffs and checks.
The rest of the deal remains mostly the same as the one negotiated by former prime minister Theresa May and includes the rights of EU citizens in the UK and British citizens in the EU, as well as the multi-billion-euro 'divorce settlement'.
After the transition period, the UK and the EU can begin a new relationship immediately as long as a trade deal is ready in time. Should this not be the case, Britain may have to trade with no agreement in force and be subject to World Trade Organisation regulations.
Executive director of international at the Financial Conduct Authority Nausicaa Delfas told Reuters: "Firms still need to ensure they are prepared for a range of scenarios that may happen at the end of 2020."