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Brexit: EU summit agrees delay until 31 October

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Brexit: EU summit agrees delay until 31 October

Tusk - May - Merkel - Photo EU Council

(BRUSSELS) - EU leaders agreed late Wednesday evening at their special summit to give the United Kingdom an extension of Article 50 until the end of October 2019. Their decision was taken in agreement with the UK.

"Such an extension should last only as long as necessary and, in any event, no longer than 31 October," said the Council Conclusions. "If the withdrawal agreement is ratified by both parties before this date, the withdrawal will take place on the first day of the following month."

The EU27 leaders had taken of the letter sent by UK Prime Minister Theresa May asking for a further extension to the Article 50 period. They agreed to an extension to allow for the ratification of the withdrawal agreement.

The UK will now have to hold European Parliament elections if it is still a member of the EU between 23 and 26 May 2019. If the UK fails to hold the elections, it will leave the EU on 1 June 2019.

The extension will be terminated if the UK is able to ratify the Withdrawal Agreement, said EU Council president Donald Tusk: "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."

The European Council (Article 50) reiterated that there could be no reopening of the agreement. Any unilateral commitment, statement or other act should be compatible with the letter and the spirit of the withdrawal agreement. Leaders also noted that the extension could not be used to start negotiations on the future relationship. "However, if the position of the United Kingdom were to evolve, the European Council is prepared to reconsider the Political Declaration on the future relationship," they said.

Finally, the heads of state or government took note of the UK's commitment to act in a constructive and responsible manner during this time.

"The United Kingdom shall facilitate the achievement of the Union's tasks and refrain from any measure which could jeopardise the attainment of the Union's objectives, in particular when participating in the decision-making processes of the Union."

The European Council will review progress at its meeting in June 2019.

Mr Tusk added: "this extension is as flexible as I expected, and a little bit shorter than I expected, but it's still enough to find the best possible solution. Please do not waste this time."

European Council (Article 50) conclusions


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