The European Parliament, on Wednesday said it was due to vote on Britain’s departure from the EU, marking one of the final steps required for Brexit to take place.
Britain is due to leave the EU on Friday (2300 GMT), three-and-a-half years after Britons narrowly voted on the issue in a 2016 referendum. Little will change in practice for the duration of an 11-month transitional phase.
A simple majority of EU lawmakers must vote in favour of Britain’s withdrawal deal for it to pass, a move that is expected following a recommendation by the parliament’s constitutional affairs committee.
Following the vote, EU member states must finally approve the deal in a written procedure that should be a formality.
Britain’s departure date, initially set for March 2019, was postponed several times amid disagreement in the British parliament on what shape Brexit should take.
In October, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, finally struck a deal with his EU counterparts that was accepted by parliament after snap elections delivered a landslide majority for the Conservative premier.
However, the European Parliament had always stressed that it could only vote on the withdrawal agreement following ratification in Britain, a process that had been completed.
The legal text runs to more than 500 pages and specifies the details of Britain’s departure, including key provisions on citizens’ rights, arrangements to maintain peace on the divided island of Ireland and Britain’s remaining financial obligations.
The withdrawal deal says nothing about Britain’s future relationship with the EU, with painstaking negotiations due to start on everything from trade and security relations to future fishing rights.