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Remarks by Donald Tusk at the EU Council: 10 April 2019

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Remarks by President Donald Tusk after the special meeting of the European Council (Art. 50) on 10 April 2019.

https://www.consilium.europa.eu/en/press/press-releases/2019/04/10/remarks-by-president-donald-tusk-after-the-special-meeting-of-the-european-council-art-50-on-10-april-2019/

Tonight the European Council decided to grant the United Kingdom a flexible extension of the Article 50 period until the 31st of October. This means an additional 6 months for the UK.

During this time, the course of action will be entirely in the UK’s hands. It can still ratify the Withdrawal Agreement, in which case the extension will be terminated.

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 UK will continue its sincere cooperation as a full member state with all its rights, and as a close friend and trusted ally in the future.

Let me finish with a message to our British friends: 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.

PM statement at the EU Council: 10-11 April 2019

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Prime Minister Theresa May’s press statement at the EU Council meeting held on 10-11 April 2019.

https://www.gov.uk/government/speeches/pm-statement-at-the-european-council-11-april-2019

I have just met with Donald Tusk, the President of the European Council, where I agreed an extension to the Brexit process to the end of October at the latest.

I continue to believe we need to leave the EU, with a deal, as soon as possible.

And vitally, the EU have agreed that the extension can be terminated when the Withdrawal Agreement has been ratified — which was my key request of my fellow leaders.

For example, this means that, if we are able to pass a deal in the first three weeks of May, we will not have to take part in European Elections and will officially leave the EU on Saturday, 1st June.

During the course of the extension, the European Council is clear that the UK will continue to hold full membership rights, as well as its obligations.

As I said in the room tonight, there is only a single tier of EU membership, with no conditionality attached beyond existing treaty obligations.

Let me conclude by saying this.

I know that there is huge frustration from many people that I had to request this extension.

The UK should have left the EU by now and I sincerely regret the fact that I have not yet been able to persuade Parliament to approve a deal which would allow the UK to leave in a smooth and orderly way.

But the choices we now face are stark and the timetable is clear.

So we must now press on at pace with our efforts to reach a consensus on a deal that is in the national interest.

Tomorrow I will be making a statement to the House of Commons.

Further talks will also take place between the Government and the Opposition to seek a way forward.

I do not pretend the next few weeks will be easy or that there is a simple way to break the deadlock in Parliament.

But we have a duty as politicians to find a way to fulfil the democratic decision of the Referendum, deliver Brexit and move our country forward.

Nothing is more pressing or more vital.

Special EU Council (Art.50), 10/04/2019

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Following a long EU Council meeting on 10 April 2019, EU27 leaders agreed to delay Brexit until 31 October 2019. Their decision was taken in agreement with the UK.

EU27 leaders took note 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.

https://www.consilium.europa.eu/en/meetings/european-council/2019/04/10/

Such an extension should last only as long as necessary and, in any event, no longer than 31 October. 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.

In the EU Council (Article 50) conclusions, EU27 leaders stressed that the UK will have to hold EU 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 EU 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.

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 EU Council will review progress at its meeting in June 2019.

Documents:

European Council (Article 50) conclusions, 10/04/2019

(copy pdf)

European Council decision extending the period under Article 50 TEU, 11/04/2019

(copy pdf)

Letter from Donald Tusk to the members of the EU Council (Art. 50) – 9 April 2019

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Invitation letter from President Donald Tusk to the members of the EU Council (Art. 50) ahead of their special meeting on 10 April 2019 which was called to discuss another request for an extension to the Article 50 period.

The President is suggesting a “flexible” extension for no longer than a year that, can be cancelled as soon as both sides have ratified the Withdrawal Agreement.

Invitation Letter for EU Council Meeting – 09 April 2019

Last week I received a letter from Prime Minister May requesting a further extension of the Article 50 period, until 30 June 2019. In her letter the Prime Minister states that the UK government’s policy remains to leave the EU in an orderly way, and that it is therefore now seeking a consensus across the House of Commons on the right way forward. She also adds that, if the UK were an EU member on 23 May 2019, it would be under a legal obligation to hold elections to the European Parliament.

Given the risks posed by a no-deal Brexit for people and businesses on both sides of the English Channel, I trust that we will continue to do our utmost to avoid this scenario. Therefore 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. In reality, granting such an extension would increase the risk of a rolling series of short extensions and emergency summits, creating new cliff-edge dates. This, in turn, would almost certainly overshadow the business of the EU27 in the months ahead. The continued uncertainty would also be bad for our businesses and citizens. Finally, if we failed to agree on any next extension, there would be a risk of an accidental no-deal Brexit.

This is why I believe we should also discuss an alternative, longer extension. 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. The flexibility would allow to terminate the extension automatically, as soon as both sides have ratified the Withdrawal Agreement. The UK would be free to leave whenever it is ready. And the EU27 would avoid repeated Brexit summits. Importantly, a long extension would provide more certainty and predictability by removing the threat of constantly shifting cliff-edge dates. Furthermore, in the event of a continued stalemate, such a longer extension would allow the UK to rethink its Brexit strategy.

Some of you have raised concerns that the UK’s continued presence as a departing EU country would pose risks for the functioning of the EU27 at a time of key decisions on its future. To address them we would need to agree on a number of conditions: no re-opening of the Withdrawal Agreement; no start of the negotiations on the future, except for the Political Declaration; the UK would have to maintain its sincere cooperation also during this crucial period, in a manner that reflects its situation as a departing member state. We should remember, however, that the United Kingdom will remain a member state with full rights and obligations. And, in any event, the UK can revoke Article 50 at any time, as stated by the European Court of Justice.

Whatever course of action is taken, it must not be influenced by negative emotions. We should treat the UK with the highest respect, as we want to remain friends and close partners, and as we will still need to agree on our future relations. Neither side should be allowed to feel humiliated at any stage in this difficult process.

As you know, with Brexit there are no easy solutions. Both aforementioned options have their advantages and disadvantages. Therefore, let us discuss them in an open, creative, and constructive way.

We will meet at 18.00 for an exchange with European Parliament President Tajani. We will then hear Prime Minister May, before meeting for dinner at 27 in order to agree a response to the United Kingdom’s request.

PM statement at the EU Council: 21 March 2019

Prime Minister Theresa May’s press statement following the EU Council meeting held on 21 March 2019.

https://www.gov.uk/government/speeches/pm-statement-at-the-eu-council-21-march-2019

I have just met with Donald Tusk following the EU Council’s discussion on the UK’s request for the approval of the Strasbourg supplementary documents and for a short extension to the Article 50 process.

Firstly I welcome the Council’s approval of the legally-binding assurances in relation to the Northern Ireland backstop which I negotiated with President Juncker last week.

This should give extra assurance to Parliament that, in the unlikely event the backstop is ever used, it will only be temporary; and that the UK and the EU will begin work immediately to replace the backstop with alternative arrangements by the end of December 2020.

After a lengthy discussion, the council today also agreed, subject to a successful vote next week, that in order to provide time for the UK Parliament to agree and ratify a Brexit deal, the date of our departure will now be extended to 22 May.

If Parliament does not agree a deal next week, the EU Council will extend Article 50 until 12 April. At this point we would either leave with no deal, or put forward an alternative plan.

If this involved a further extension it would mean participation in the European Parliamentary elections.

As I have said previously, I believe strongly that it would be wrong to ask people in the UK to participate in these elections three years after voting to leave the EU.

What the decision today underlines is the importance of the House of Commons passing a Brexit deal next week so that we can bring an end to the uncertainty and leave in a smooth and orderly manner.

Tomorrow morning, I will be returning to the UK and working hard to build support for getting the deal through.

I know MPs on all sides of the debate have passionate views, and I respect those different positions.

Last night I expressed my frustration. I know that MPs are frustrated too. They have difficult jobs to do.

I hope we can all agree, we are now at the moment of decision.

I will make every effort to ensure that we are able to leave with a deal and move our country forward.

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