UK urged to use new Brexit extension 'wisely'

Written by Martin Banks on 11 April 2019 in News

The UK has been urged to “use wisely” the delay to its EU exit which was agreed at a summit of EU leaders in the early hours of Thursday.

Theresa May | Photo credit: Press Association

At the emergency meeting in Brussels, the UK and EU27 leaders agreed to extend the Article 50 process until 31 October, with a possibility to terminate the extension once the Withdrawal Agreement is ratified.

Council conclusions stated, “If the Withdrawal Agreement is ratified by both parties before this [31 October], the withdrawal will take place on the first day of the following month.”

They also state that the Withdrawal Agreement will not be renegotiated and that the “extension cannot be allowed to undermine the regular functioning of the Union and its institutions,” adding that the UK committed “to act in a constructive and responsible manner throughout the extension in accordance with the duty of sincere cooperation.”


If the UK does not hold European Parliament elections next month, it will leave the EU on 1 June.

There will also a review of the situation at the next scheduled council meeting in June.

In a news briefing in the early hours of the morning, European Council President Donald Tusk said the UK “can still ratify the Withdrawal Agreement, in which case the extension will be terminated. It can also reconsider the whole Brexit strategy. That might lead to changes in the Political Declaration, but not in the Withdrawal Agreement.”

“Until the end of this period, the UK will also have the possibility to revoke Article 50 and cancel Brexit altogether,” he added.

“Until the end of this [extension] period, the UK will also have the possibility to revoke Article 50 and cancel Brexit altogether” Donald Tusk

Speaking at a separate press conference, UK Prime Minister Theresa May said, “The UK should have left the EU by now and I sincerely regret the fact that I have not yet been able to persuade parliament to approve a deal.”

“Further talks will also take place between the Government and the opposition to seek a way forward. I do not pretend the next few weeks will be easy or that there is a simple way to break the deadlock in Parliament.”

She added, “But we have a duty as politicians to find a way to fulfil the democratic decision of the referendum, deliver Brexit and move our country forward.”

May will make a statement to the House of Commons this afternoon and she is now expected to resume talks with the opposition Labour party in ongoing efforts to find a resolution to the latest Brexit impasse.

Reacting to the outcome of the special summit, the European Committee of the Regions (CoR) - the EU's assembly of local and regional governments - reiterated the need for Member States to “urgently” adopt the EU long-term budget for 2021-2027 to ensure regions and cities are able to “sufficiently prepare” new plans and mitigate the impact of Brexit.

The call was made during a debate earlier on Wednesday in the European Parliament between the Committee's 350 European regional and local leaders and MEP Jean Arthuis, who chairs Parliament's Committee on Budgets.

“The UK should have left the EU by now and I sincerely regret the fact that I have not yet been able to persuade Parliament to approve a deal” Theresa May

The CoR said it remains “deeply concerned” by the financial impact of the decisions taken at the summit.

CoR president Karl-Heinz Lambertz told this website, "The decision to agree to an extension until the end of the year gives the UK more time to overcome the internal impasse it faces.”

“There will be no winners from Brexit, but we must use this time wisely to prepare for the future building bridges between local and regional governments in the UK and the EU27.”

“Crucially, an extension should not impede the EU decision-making progress on more pressing issues such as regional inequality, climate change, job creation and geopolitical challenges.”

He added, “We need to provide certainty to protect our economies and respond to these challenges which means urgently agreeing a sufficient future for the EU budget so that regions and cities can plan investments for the future.”

About the author

Martin Banks is a senior reporter at The Parliament Magazine

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