After years of fraught, back-and-forth negotiations, peppered with planned and snap elections on both sides, the United Kingdom is finally set to leave the European Union on Friday.
On January 31 at midnight (11:00 PM UK time) the divorce agreement will enter into force, ending the UK’s nearly 50-year membership to the EU and kicking off a period of new complexities as both sides work on defining their future relationship.
As Brexit hour draws near, the EU capital is readying its final acts, speeches and gestures of goodbye, shedding off the signs and markings of what was one of its key members.
The UK was one of the member states which took the union into its current form as a political bloc when the Maastricht Treaty took effect in 1993.
After sitting in the EU Parliament for the last time on Wednesday, British MEPs will free up a total of 73 seats, hand in their parliament passes and give back official phones, tablets and other work tools that came with their job.
Part of their former seats will be redistributed among current member states but a majority (46) will be reserved for potential new member countries, De Morgen reports.
Union Jack flags will be pulled down from EU building flagposts and stored along with the flags of other third countries, which are pulled out on the occasion of official visits, events or summits.
A single Union Jack flag will go to the Museum of European History.
The presidents of the bloc’s main institutions, the EU Parliament, Council and Commission, are set to deliver a joint statement at 11:00 AM at the parliament, on a day they described as one of “reflection and mixed emotions.”
Institution names will be changed and building plaques replaced on Friday, with the UK’s Permanent Representation to the EU will become the UK Embassy to the European Union.