Brexit pushed back to 31 Oct.; Dutch PM satisfied
The European Union leaders decided to grant the United Kingdom another delay for their departure from the EU. The British now have until the end of October to approve a withdrawal agreement. Prime Minister Mark Rutte was satisfied after the hours long EU summit on Wednesday. "It was important that the union continue to function and we achieved that with this decision", he said to NOS.
The summit took a long time because there was a difference of opinion between the government leaders about the duration of the postponement. The delay is not short, as French president Emmanuel Macron and British Prime Minister Theresa May wanted, and not long as President of the European Council Donald Tusk wanted. Hopefully this medium-length delay will be a Goldilocks scenario and turn out to be just right.
The Brexit date was moved to October 31st, with an evaluation at the end of June. "We will look at how things are going and whether the British may need help", Rutte said.
According to Rutte, the hours long meeting was intense but friendly. Other reports state that there was a lot of resentment, particularly between the president of the European Commission Jean-Claude Juncker and French president Macron, according to NOS. Macron fiercely opposed a longer delay for the British, earning him a reprimand from Juncker. In the end the French president agreed to the delay, because the British gave assurances that they will not stand in the way of the 27 remaining member states. "We will also have more meetings in the coming period without the British", Rutte said. "The EU must go on."
The consequence of this agreement is that the United Kingdom must organize elections for the European Parliament. Prime Minister May previously said that preparations for those elections have already started. But if the British decide not to hold the elections, there will be a no-deal Brexit on June 1st. "They are legally obliged to organize elections as a member of the EU. If they don't, membership will automatically end", Rutte said.
The date of October 31st coincides with the end of the current European Commission's term. October 31st is the current Commission's last working day, the new European Commission starts on November 1st.