ZAGREB, March 22, 2019 – The decision by the leaders of 27 European Union member states to offer the United Kingdom two dates to delay its departure from the bloc (Brexit) provides legal security, reliability and predictability for everyone involved, Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenković said in Brussels on Friday.
The leaders of 27 EU member states unanimously agreed on Thursday night to delay the UK’s departure from the Union until 22 May, provided that the withdrawal agreement was adopted by the British Parliament next week, and if not, London would be given until 12 April to say whether it wanted to hold an election for the European Parliament or leave with no deal.
“That message is one of reliability, predictability and security for natural and legal persons, for the financial markets, and for all political actors on the British political scene to know exactly what will be going on and also for us to know what will be going on. That’s why that message is very good, it is a reasonable answer to Prime Minister Theresa May’s letter,” Plenković said before the start of the second day of the summit of EU leaders.
The first date, of 22 May, will apply only if the British Parliament approves the withdrawal agreement by 29 March, the existing date for the UK’s departure. That date was chosen because the European Parliament election takes place in all EU member states from 23 to 26 May, and an extension of the Brexit date would require the UK to participate in the election.
The second date, of 12 April, is the deadline by which an election for the European Parliament should be called in the UK. If the UK fails to ratify the withdrawal agreement and if it does not want to withdraw from the agreement, it has to decide by 12 April whether it will call an election for the European Parliament or seek a longer extension.
“If they ratify the agreement next week, they will have enough time by 22 May to adopt all the necessary laws. This is realistic and this is a positive scenario. If this does not happen, and at this point we cannot know what will happen in the United Kingdom and what will be the political consequences of another possible rejection, then we have the second deadline of 12 April. If they do not call the election by then, they leave automatically on 22 May,” Plenković said.
The decision on whether the UK will participate in the European election will have repercussions for Croatia and 13 other member states which are to get more seats in the European Parliament under a new seat distribution plan.
A new seat distribution has been agreed as part of preparations for the UK’s exit from the EU, under which the number of seats in the European Parliament would be reduced from 751 to 705.
Of the 73 seats currently assigned to the UK, 46 would be held in reserve for future enlargement, or would remain unfilled, while the remaining 27 British seas would be distributed among 14 member states which are underrepresented in the European Parliament. Croatia would thus have 12 instead of the present 11 seats.
In Croatia, elections for the European Parliament must be called at least 60 days in advance, meaning by 26 March, which is next Tuesday.
More news about Croatia and Brexit can be found in the Politics section.