The European Union said last week that it was ready to extend the transition period for the United Kingdom to leave the bloc. The aim is to help smooth the UK’s divorce as the original deadline of 30 March 2019 doesn’t seem to be sufficient to provide for enough negotiation time. The two sides are still failing to find a compromise on how the post-Brexit relationship will look like. UK Prime Minister proposed extending the current deadline “for a few months”.
While Donald Tusk, President of the EU’s intergovernmental body, the European Council, said that though the EU leaders had not yet specifically discussed an extension, he didn’t expect much opposition. “If the UK decided an extension of the transition period would be helpful to reach a deal, I am sure the leaders would be ready to consider it positively.” Nonetheless, Mr. Tusk admitted that not much progress had been made at the recent summit, although he, along with European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, struck an optimistic note when he suggested that a Brexit deal was closer.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel was also optimistic. “We have been able to reach agreement to a very large degree,” she commented. “Time is of the essence, but still we do not have a solution on all fronts, for example we still have to deal with the Irish situation, there is still no really satisfactory answer to this; this cannot be completely separated from the question of what our relationship is going to look like in the future.” Theresa May said that some difficult moments in negotiations are still ahead while noting that she was confident about her ability to secure a good deal that would work for all parties. Ms. May also added that she was hopeful that an extension would not be needed.