New Brexit agreement “encouraging” says Dutch PM

Mark Rutte and Donald Tusk
Dutch PM Mark Rutte with Donald Tusk, President of the European Council, at a special meeting of the European Council. June 30, 2019Photo: European Union

The Dutch cabinet and European leaders should be cautiously pleased that a deal has been reached between the U.K. and the European Union over remaining Brexit issues, said Mark Rutte, Prime Minister of the Netherlands. “Now we have to study the details,” he told broadcaster NOS.

On the surface “it is very encouraging. We are very happy about it.”

The deal was announced by Jean-Claude Juncker, president of the European Commission, and soon thereafter by Boris Johnson, the conservative UK Prime Minister. The announcement came hours before a planned European Council summit in Brussels. However, moments later the Conservative Party’s coalition partner, DUP, said they would not support the new deal, meaning Johnson would have to cobble together support to get the deal past British Parliament.

Failure to do so means the Prime Minister of the UK is obliged to ask that EU for an extension under British law. NOS reported on Thursday, citing unnamed sources in London, that Johnson is expected to ask European leaders to reject any request for an extension from Britain.

Rutte arrived in Brussels on Thursday to attend the two-day European Council summit, a gathering of all leaders of the EU. Brexit was expected to be the dominant agenda issue, along with Turkey’s incursion into northeastern Syria.

The EU was also expected to discuss Turkey’s ongoing gas and drilling near member state Cyprus, which the EU has condemned and called “illegal.”

Leaders were scheduled to discuss procedures that could lead to Albania and the Republic of North Macedonia joining the EU. Also on the agenda were the union’s long-term budget, five-year strategy, and climate strategy.