Brexit. Nine days to go. PM seeks short extension.

The Prime Minister has just written to the EU requesting an extension to article 50 up to 30 June. A common refrain among EU Members has been that for an extension to be granted there needs to be a plan. As Michel Barnier stated yesterday any extension must be “linked to something new, a new political event, a new political process”. It is by no means certain that the extension requested will be granted by leaders of all 27 Member States. It is possible that an extension may be granted subject to conditions, such as UK participation in the elections for MEPs on 23 May. The possibility of a no-deal exit on 29 March remains.

 

The European Commission has taken the following position on the request for an extension beyond 23 May, according to this report from Reuters a few hours ago.

The European commission opposes extending British membership of the European Union to June 30, as British prime minister Theresa May proposed on Wednesday, according to an EU document seen by Reuters.

In a note on the Brexit process reviewed by the commission at its weekly meeting on Wednesday, officials wrote that leaders meeting May at a summit on Thursday faced a “binary” choice of a short delay of  Brexit from 29 March to before 23 May or a long delay to at least the end of this year, with Britain obliged to hold an election on 23 May for European parliament lawmakers.

“Any extension offered to the United Kingdom should either last until 23 May 2019 or should be significantly longer and require European elections,” the document said. “This is the only way of protecting the functioning of the EU institutions and their ability to take decisions.”

EU states which were due to receive additional legislative seats after Brexit would need to know by mid- to late-April if they would be denied those seats because Britain was staying.

The note also said that in any extended membership, Britain should, “in a spirit of loyal cooperation”, commit to “constructive abstention” on key issues, such as the EU’s long-term budget and filling top EU posts after the May election.

 

So, that looks like a ‘no’.

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