Tusk Proposes EU Grant UK ‘Flexible’ Brexit Extension of Up to 1 Year
The European Council President wants to eliminate “the threat of constantly shifting cliff-edge dates”.
The European Union should grant the UK an extension on Brexit of “no longer than 1 year” but beyond June 30, 2019, European Council President Donald Tusk has proposed.
Tusk sent on Tuesday a letter to the EU member state leaders, the members of the European Council, the supreme decision making body of the European Union, ahead of their special Brexit summit starting on Wednesday.
The European Council already granted Britain one Brexit extension based on UK Prime Minister Theresa May’s expectation that she could get the British Parliament to adopt her embattled Brexit deal with the EU by April 12.
The deal, however, has been rejected three times by the House of Commons, resulting in May’s new request for a Brexit extension by June 30, 2019, and the calling of an emergency EU leaders’ summit in Brussels, which is supposed to grant it.
“I propose that we consider Prime Minister May’s request for an extension at our meeting tomorrow… However, our experience so far, as well as the deep divisions within the House of Commons, give us little reason to believe that the ratification process can be completed by the end of June,” European Council President Donald Tusk wrote to the EU member state leaders in his special summit invitation.
Tusk made clear his concern that granting the UK another short extension on Brexit “would increase the risk of a rolling series of short extensions and emergency summits, creating new cliff-edge dates.”
He also warned of the “risk of an accidental no-deal Brexit” if the EU leaders failed to grant Britain another extension.
“This is why I believe we should also discuss an alternative, longer extension,” the European Council President stated.
“One possibility would be a flexible extension, which would last only as long as necessary and no longer than one year, as beyond that date we will need to decide unanimously on some key European projects,” Tusk proposed.
“A long extension would provide more certainty and predictability by removing the threat of constantly shifting cliff-edge dates,” he argued.
“Furthermore, in the event of a continued stalemate, such a longer extension would allow the UK to rethink its Brexit strategy,” the European Council chief concluded.
Urging that the UK be treated with “the highest respect” by the EU 27, Tusk also insisted that the flexible Brexit extension of up to a year that he proposed came with a number of conditions.
Those include no renegotiating of the existing Brexit deal, no beginning of talks on the future relationship between the Union and the UK, and “sincere cooperation” on part of the latter reflecting “its situation as a departing member state”.
British Prime Minister May toured the capitals of Germany and France on Tuesday to get Angela Merkel and Emmanuel Macron to back her plea for a Brexit delay until June 30.
“We’ve never been closed to the idea of finding an alternative solution to ‘no deal’ within certain limits and not at any price,” an anonymous aide to French President Emmanuel Macron said, as quoted by France24.
The aide made it clear that France was not opposed to extending the Brexit deadline but insisted on strict conditions, and deemed a year to be “too long” an extension.
Meanwhile, a source from Germany’s ruling CDU party has quoted Chancellor Angela Merkel as saying that granting a Brexit extension until “early 2020” was a possibility.
“I will do everything in order to prevent a no-deal Brexit… Where there’s a will, there’s a way,” Merkel stated herself last week.
Until the special summit of the European Council decides to grant the UK another extension, Britain will be supposed to leave the EU at 23:00 BST on Friday, April 12, 2019.
(Banner image: Donald Tusk on Twitter)