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European Council grants an extension to Brexit

Government Communications Department 22.3.2019 1.07 | Published in English on 22.3.2019 at 12.24
Press release 170/2019
European Council grants an extension to Brexit

The European Council has responded to Prime Minister Theresa May’s request to extend the negotiating period for the United Kingdom’s exit from the European Union until 30 June 2019. The European Council is prepared to offer an extension until 22 May 2019, on condition that the UK Parliament approves the withdrawal agreement next week.

In the event that Parliament rejects the withdrawal agreement next week, Brexit will only be delayed until 12 April 2019. EU leaders expect the UK to indicate a way forward before this date.

“We want to be flexible, because a no-deal Brexit is not in anyone’s interests. Now we will wait and see what the UK decides,” said Prime Minister Juha Sipilä.

European Council confirms its commitment to negotiating the future relationship

The documents relating to the withdrawal agreement and the future EU-UK relationship, which were agreed between Theresa May and the President of the European Commission Jean-Claude Juncker in Strasbourg on 11 March 2019, were approved by the European Council, at Prime Minister May’s request.

In the Instrument relating to the withdrawal agreement, the EU and the UK emphasise that neither wants to use the Irish backstop

In the joint statement on the future relationship, the EU and the UK agree to negotiate their future relationship in good faith and to expedite the negotiating process. The common goal is to have the future relationship in place by the end of the transition period. The transition period would start on the day the withdrawal agreement takes effect and end on 31 December 2020.

Single market and climate the main topics on the second day

The European Council will meet on 22 March 2019 to discuss EU-China relations and measures aimed at strengthening and deepening the single market, such as development of the digital economy and the service economy. Regarding climate measures, EU leaders will discuss the preparations of the EU’s long-term climate strategy. EU leaders will also review the progress made in tackling disinformation and the need to ensure free elections in the EU.

Inquiries: Kare Halonen, State Secretary for EU Affairs, tel. +358 295 160 319, Niina Nurkkala, Special Adviser (EU Affairs) tel. +358 50 347 2661 and Anne Sjöholm, Head of Communications for EU Affairs, tel. +358 40 537 0733, Prime Minister’s Office