First European Council session held; to continue today

The European Council meeting – which is expected to come to an end today – debated Brexit and the UK’s request to delay its withdrawal from the EU to the end of June after Prime Minister May repeated her requests to extend the Article 50 period and to approve the so-called Strasbourg agreement.

During the discussion among the EU27, the leaders approached these requests in a positive spirit. The European Council decided to approve the Strasbourg agreement. As regards to the extension, the Council’s decisions envisaged two scenarios:

  • In the first scenario, that is, if the Withdrawal Agreement is passed by the House of Commons next week, the European Council agrees to an extension until the 22nd of May.
  • In the second scenario, that is, if the Withdrawal Agreement is not approved by the House of Commons next week, the European Council agrees to an extension until the 12th of April, while expecting the UK to indicate a way forward. What this means in practice is that, until that date, all options will remain open, and the cliff-edge date will be delayed.

The UK Government will still have a choice of a deal, no-deal, a long extension or revoking Article 50. The 12th of April is a key date in terms of the UK deciding whether to hold European Parliament elections. If it has not decided to do so by then, the option of a long extension will automatically become impossible.

In accordance with the Treaties, any extension must be decided unanimously by the EU27, in agreement with the Member State concerned. This is why Mr Tusk met Prime Minister May several times yesterday night to ensure that the UK accepts the extension scenarios and Mr Tusk was pleased to confirm that an agreement on this was reached.

Click here to read about what Donald Tusk had to say following yesterday’s session on the UK’s request to delay its withdrawal, Mr Tusk having indicated an April 12, 2019 deadline.

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