• European Union. Brexit: chronology of a divorce

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson signed the withdrawal agreement of the European Union on Friday, after two senior EU representatives signed the document, in a closed ceremony .

"Today I signed the Withdrawal Agreement for the United Kingdom to leave the EU on January 31, thus honoring the democratic mandate of the British people," Johnson announced on Twitter.

The last step that remains is the ratification by the European Parliament next Wednesday. Then, on Friday 31, the divorce will be consummated at 23.00 British time, midnight in Spain, ending almost half a century of tumultuous relationship.

Prior to Johnson, the leaders of the European institutions signed the Brexit agreement on Friday. The President of the European Council "Charles Michel and I have just signed the EU Withdrawal Agreement of the EU, opening the way for its ratification by the European Chamber," tweeted the head of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen .

In the official images of the ceremony, which was not allowed access to the press, the serious faces of both, accompanied by the European negotiator, Michel Barnier , star in the signing of the Withdrawal Treaty, which later traveled to London for rubric by Prime Minister Boris Johnson.

After Johnson's signature, the document returns to Brussels, where the original will be kept in the archives of the institutions along with other international treaties. A copy will be sent to London, the British government said.

The United Kingdom is heading to leave the block on January 31 as the British decided in a referendum in 2016 and after more than three years of negotiations and two British legislative elections to try to move the agreement forward.

A mere procedure

Queen Elizabeth II on Thursday gave her real assent to the bill that regulates the terms of Brexit, after its approval by the British Parliament, so the ball is now on the European side. The ratification by the full of the Eurocamara is scheduled for next Wednesday. But the vote appears as a mere procedure after the competent parliamentary commission approved it on Thursday by 23 votes against three , "a historic moment, although it is not pleasant or good," said President Antonio Tajani in a debate between British sadness and happiness .

Labor Richard Corbett denounced that "Brexit is no longer the will of the British people", while Rupert Lowe, of the Brexit Party, called on the EU to "behave fairly" with the British when negotiating the relationship future .

The United Kingdom will end 47 years of membership on January 31, leading the first divorce of a country in more than six decades of European project, although it will continue to comply with the rules until the end of the year without participating in the decisions. During this transition period , which seeks to avoid an abrupt rupture and that can be extended, London and Brussels must reach an agreement on the future relationship on both sides of the English Channel, especially in the commercial aspect.

"An impossible mission"

"Things will inevitably change but our friendship will remain. We begin a new chapter as partners and allies," tweeted the president of the European Council, who expressed his "desire" to write with the United Kingdom "this new page." For her, the head of community diplomacy, Josep Borrell, named the Portuguese João Vale de Almeida on Friday as the future ambassador of the bloc to the United Kingdom .

The European Commission expects to have its negotiating mandate in February, but taking into account the time needed for the ratification of an agreement, London and Brussels would have eight months - from March to October - to achieve it, "an impossible mission", according to a European diplomat

July 1 will be the first key date of the new stage in Brexit. The EU and the United Kingdom must then decide whether to prolong the transition and therefore trade negotiation for one or two years. The British 'premier' has already advanced that rejects that option.

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