UK warns of 'bumpy' post-Brexit transition despite deal

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A colleague wears a Christmas hat as European Union chief negotiator Michel Barnier, center, carries a binder of the Brexit trade deal during a special meeting of Coreper, at the European Council building in Brussels, Friday, Dec. 25, 2020. European Union ambassadors convened on Christmas Day to start an assessment of the massive free-trade deal the EU struck with Britain. After the deal was announced on Thursday, EU nations already showed support for the outcome and it was expected that they would unanimously back the agreement, a prerequisite for its legal approval. (Olivier Hoslet, Pool via AP)

LONDON – First came the Brexit trade deal. Now comes the red tape and the institutional nitty gritty.

Four days after sealing a free trade agreement with the European Union, the British government warned businesses Monday to get ready for disruptions and “bumpy moments” when the new rules take effect on Thursday night.

Firms are scrambling to digest the details and implications of the 1,240-page deal sealed by the EU and the U.K. on Christmas Eve, just a week before the year-end deadline.

Ambassadors from the 27 EU nations, meanwhile, gave their unanimous approval to the deal on Monday.

“Green light,” said German spokesman Sebastian Fischer, whose country currently holds the EU presidency..

The approval had been expected, since all EU leaders have warmly welcomed the deal, which is designed to put post-Brexit relations between the bloc and former member Britain on reliable footing.

The agreement has not, however, eliminated the mistrust that festered between Britain and its neighbors during months of fractious negotiations

The French presidency said in a statement that France would remain “from the very first day very vigilant” about the implementation of the deal, especially to protect French companies and fisheries “in case the U.K. disregards its commitments.”