The European Union and the United Kingdom have agreed on an extension to the Brexit deadline. The UK is going to stay an EU member until the end of October and participate in the next month’s European elections. “Please do not waste this time”, European Council President Donald Tusk pleaded with British leaders. The extension will run until 31 October but the UK is obliged to hold European elections on 23 May not to be kicked out of the bloc. The UK government has already made arrangements to organize the polls.
EU leaders are also going to review the agenda at the regular European Council summit scheduled for the end of June. “The review in June is not to revise the date, but only to assess the situation,” an EU policymaker clarified. Most EU countries were keen on having a prospect of “sincere cooperation” with British diplomats, saying that the UK would not be able to block a deal on the EU’s next seven-year budget and would have few opportunities to apply the veto. Nonetheless, British participation in the May elections could change the political balance in the next European legislature as the British are likely to vote for euroskeptic policymakers.
The EU also threw out the idea of considering an extension to the Commission’s mandate in case Britain be granted a substantial delay to its planned divorce date. Some leading EU members, such as France, Belgium and Austria, but also a few smaller states, are calling for a hard line on Brexit in the EU and a short delay of only a few weeks, demanding solid guarantees that the UK would have no say on the EU business during that period.