Ambassadors from the European Union's 27 nations convened on Christmas Day to start assessing the free trade deal the bloc has struck with former member Britain, a historic accord that takes effect in just a week.
At Friday’s exceptional meeting, the EU delegations asked for more time to study the texts before sending them to lawmakers at the European Parliament, according to an EU diplomat.
The ambassadors are expected to meet again on Monday.
Both sides claim the 2,000-page agreement protects their cherished goals.
Britain said it gives the U.K. control over its money, borders, laws and fishing grounds.
The EU says it protects the EU’s single market and contains safeguards to ensure that Britain does not unfairly undercut the bloc’s standards.
Under the deal, there will be no tariffs or quotas on trade between the two sides, though there will be more red tape for businesses because the U.K. is leaving the EU's frictionless single market and customs union.
Firms will have to file forms and customs declarations for the first time in years.
There will also be different rules on product labeling as well as checks on agricultural products.
Clutching the final 2,000-page Brexit agreement on Christmas Eve, British Prime minister Boris Johnson says he has "a small present for anyone who may be looking for something to read in that sleep post-Christmas lunch moment".
Boris Johnson hailed Thursday's agreement as a “new beginning” for the U.K. in its relationship with its European neighbors.
After Britain and the European Union struck a trade deal following 10 months of intense negotiation, Johnson adds "I believe it will be the basis of a happy and successful and stable partnership with out friends in the EU for years to come".