EU leaders descend on Brussels for key Brexit summit

EU leaders were in Brussels on Thursday for a summit where they are expected to rubberstamp the Brexit transition deal outlined earlier in the week.

European Council | Photo credit: Press Association

By Martin Banks

Martin Banks is a senior reporter at the Parliament Magazine

22 Mar 2018

Speaking ahead of the summit, European Council President Donald Tusk told reporters, “I have just recommended to our leaders that we welcome in principle the agreement on transition.

“In practice, the transition phase will allow us to delay all the negative consequences of Brexit by another 21 months.”

He added, “It is important not least for our people and businesses to bide this time so that everyone is prepared for the real impact of Brexit.”


The two-day European Council summit begins today, with EU27 leaders expected to sign off on the transition deal tomorrow.

The UK will ask other EU leaders to condemn the alleged Russian poisoning of a former spy on British soil. They may also be asked to expel Russian diplomats suspected of spying.

On Russia and the Salisbury attack, Tusk said, “I have no doubt that all EU leaders will express solidarity with the UK. But I will also suggest that we draw practical conclusions as to what this means for the EU. To me, it is clear that we should reinforce our preparedness for future attacks, including in cooperation with Nato.

“We also need to increase our resilience to hybrid threats, such as undermining trust in our democracies through fake news or election-meddling.”

Elsewhere, it was also reported that the UK will be asked to come up with a solution to the Irish border by the next meeting of EU leaders in June, or else agree to the legally binding “backstop” solution drawn up by the Commission that would keep Northern Ireland in the EU customs territory and regulatory area.

A senior EU diplomat said, “The EU27 will be alive to any attempt to kick Ireland into the long grass. We’ve made it clear we won’t proceed without progress by June.”

Aside from Brexit, taxation, social issues, digital single market, the energy union, US trade tariffs, migration and the Western Balkans will all be discussed at the summit.


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