The agreement eventually now needs approval from Britainâ€™s Parliament and the EUâ€™s legislature.
The European Unionâ€™s top officials on Wednesday formally signed the long fought-over post-Brexit trade deal with the United Kingdom.
European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen and European Council President Charles Michel signed it in a brief ceremony in Brussels, Belgium.
The documents will now be flown across the Channel to London in a Royal Air Force plane for British Prime Minister Boris Johnson to sign.
â€œThe agreement that we signed today is the result of months of intense negotiations in which the European Union has displayed an unprecedented level of unity,â€ Michel said.
â€œIt is a fair and balanced agreement that fully protects the fundamental interests of the European Union and creates stability and predictability for citizens and companiesâ€.
The UK Parliament will start debating the agreement on Wednesday, setting up new trade rules between the 27-nation bloc and former member the UK.
Because Johnsonâ€™s ruling Conservative Party enjoys a parliamentary majority, UK MPs are expected to approve the deal, whichÂ is set to provisionally enter into force on January 1.
The agreement also needs approval from the EUâ€™s legislature, which is not expected to take up the deal for weeks.
The leaders of the European Parliamentâ€™s political groups said they would not seek full approval until March because of the specific and far-reaching implications of the agreement. The overwhelming expectation is that EU lawmakers will approve the deal.
The 1,240-page post-Brexit deal was sealed by the EU and the UK on Christmas Eve, just a week before the year-end deadline.
â€œOn major issues, the European Union stands ready to work shoulder to shoulder with the United Kingdom,â€ Michel said.
â€œThis will be the case on climate change, ahead of the COP 26 in Glasgow, and on the global response to pandemics, in particular with a possible treaty on pandemics. On foreign affairs, we will seek cooperation on specific issues based on shared values and interests.â€