EU agrees extension to Article 50

Posted in UK and EU legal framework The Withdrawal Agreement

The EU has agreed to a short extension to Article 50.

Following a meeting of EU leaders on 21 March, the Council released a statement confirming that it “agrees to an extension until 22 May 2019, provided the Withdrawal Agreement is approved by the House of Commons next week. If the Withdrawal Agreement is not approved by the House of Commons next week, the European Council agrees to an extension until 12 April 2019 and expects the United Kingdom to indicate a way forward before this date for consideration by the European Council”. This was subsequently confirmed in a Council Decision.

The statement also reiterates that there can be no reopening of the Withdrawal Agreement and stipulates that any “unilateral commitment, statement or other act should be compatible with the letter and the spirit of the Withdrawal Agreement”.

The result is that if Parliament approves the draft Withdrawal Agreement, the UK will have until 22 May to pass the necessary legislation to bring it into effect. If it does not approve the deal next week, Parliament now has an extra two weeks to come up with an alternative proposal, or leave with no deal on 12 April. The Council made clear that if the UK were to seek a longer extension, it would be necessary for it to participate in European Parliament elections, something which the Prime Minister has so far been unwilling to countenance. 

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