ZAGREB, April 11, 2019 – The United Kingdom has been granted an extra six and a half months to complete the process of Brexit, ratify the withdrawal agreement and to try to reach a consensus in parliament on an orderly withdrawal from the European Union, Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenković told reporters in Brussels early on Thursday morning after an emergency EU summit.
The leaders of the 27 EU member states approved a delay of the UK’s departure from the EU until 31 October. The UK will be able to leave at any time earlier when the withdrawal agreement is ratified.
“In this way we have accomplished our goal of not having a new summit and new extensions every two or three weeks,” Plenković said.
Unless it leaves by 22 May, the United Kingdom will have to organise elections for the European Parliament, which are scheduled for 23-26 May, and if it fails to do so, it will have to leave the EU on 1 June, summit conclusions say. Brexit will be on the agenda again at a regular EU summit in the second half of June to discuss how the withdrawal process is proceeding.
European Council President Donald Tusk told a press conference that the extension would give the UK time to consider the entire situation regarding Brexit. “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 said.
Plenković said that it was now “politically a bit awkward, not to say absurd” for the UK to organise elections for the European Parliament, “but such are the rules, and if it is still a member at the time of the elections, then it has to conduct them.”
Also, the UK “must be a loyal member with all rights and duties as long as it is an EU member,” he added.
“The European Council takes note of the commitment by the United Kingdom to act in a constructive and responsible manner throughout the extension period in accordance with the duty of sincere cooperation,” summit conclusions say. This means that the UK is expected not to obstruct the functioning of the Union and its institutions.
If the UK remains in the EU after May’s elections, Croatia, like other countries that have been allotted more seats in the European Parliament, will have one seat less until the UK leaves the bloc. Croatia has called elections for 12 seats in the European Parliament, according to the new seat allocation. The 12th MEP will be able to activate their term the moment the UK leaves the EU.
More Brexit news can be found in the Politics section.