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The EU's chief Brexit negotiatior Michel Barnier (L) carrying the 2000-page Brexit deal with the Greek ambassador at an EU meeting on Dec. 25. Photo: Olivier Hoslet/POOL/AFP via Getty Images

Ambassadors for the European Union's 27 member states have unanimously approved the provisional application of a post-Brexit trade deal on Jan. 1, a German spokesperson confirmed on Monday.

Why it matters: It's an expected, but crucial step in staving off a potentially catastrophic "no-deal" Brexit on Jan. 1, coming days after the U.K. government and European Commission announced they had reached a stunning breakthrough after months of stalled negotiations.

What to watch: The U.K.'s House of Commons will meet to vote on the deal on Wednesday.

  • The leader of the opposition Labour Party, Keir Starmer, has urged lawmakers to back the deal, all but ensuring that Prime Minister Boris Johnson will have the votes he needs for the agreement to sail through Parliament.
  • The European Parliament will vote to fully approve the deal in the new year, but it will still take effect on a provisional basis to avoid a cliff-edge Brexit on Jan. 1.

The big picture: Even with the application of the deal, which outlines many of the terms of the U.K.'s new relationship with its closest and largest trading partner, the British government has warned businesses and citizens to prepare for some "bumpy moments" when the Brexit transition period ends on Dec. 31.

Go deeper: U.K. and EU reach historic post-Brexit trade deal

Go deeper

Jan 21, 2021 - World

World leaders react to "new dawn in America" under Biden administration

President Biden reacts delivers his inaugural address on the West Front of the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday. Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

World leaders have pledged to work with President Biden on issues including the COVID-19 pandemic and climate change, with many praising his move to begin the formal process for the U.S. to rejoin the Paris Climate Agreement.

The big picture: Several leaders noted the swift shift from former President Trump's "America First" policy to Biden's action to re-engage with the world and rebuild alliances.

Updated 1 hour ago - Science

Huge wildfire reaches edge of Sequoia National Park

A plume of smoke and flames rise into the air as the fire burns towards Moro Rock during the KNP Complex fire in the Sequoia National Park near Three Rivers, California, on Saturday. Photo: Patrick T. Fallon/AFP via Getty Images

Firefighters in Sequoia National Park were working into the night after two wildfires merged to reach the Giant Forest Saturday.

Why it matters: This forest contains over 2,000 giant sequoias, including the General Sherman Tree — the world's largest tree by volume. Park officials wrapped the redwoods in foil last week as the Paradise and Colony Fires, now known as the KNP Complex Fire, neared. Protection efforts appeared to be working overnight.

2 hours ago - World

Hong Kong holds first "patriots only" elections

Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam during a news conference last Monday. Photo: Lui Siu Wai/Xinhua via Getty Images

Hong Kong's elections to choose the city's Election Committee members opened to a select group of voters on Sunday, under a new "patriots only" system imposed by China's government.

Why it matters: All candidates running to be members of the electoral college have been "vetted" by Beijing, per Reuters. They will go on to choose the Asian financial hub's next leader, approved by China's government, and some of its legislature.