The European Council (Art. 50) on 21 March 2019 adopted conclusions on Brexit. The following day, leaders adopted conclusions on jobs, growth and competitiveness, climate change, external relations, as well as securing free and fair elections and fighting disinformation.
1. The European Council takes note of the letter of Prime Minister Theresa May of 20 March 2019.
2. In response, the European Council approves the Instrument relating to the Withdrawal Agreement and the Joint Statement supplementing the Political Declaration agreed between the European Commission and the government of the United Kingdom in Strasbourg on 11 March 2019.
3. The European Council agrees to an extension until 22 May 2019, provided the Withdrawal Agreement is approved by the House of Commons next week. If the Withdrawal Agreement is not approved by the House of Commons next week, the European Council agrees to an extension until 12 April 2019 and expects the United Kingdom to indicate a way forward before this date for consideration by the European Council.
4. The European Council reiterates that there can be no opening of the Withdrawal Agreement that was agreed between the Union and the United Kingdom in November 2018. Any unilateral commitment, statement or other act should be compatible with the letter and the spirit of the Withdrawal Agreement.
5. The European Council calls for work to be continued on preparedness and contingency at all levels for the consequences of the United Kingdom’s withdrawal, taking into account all possible outcomes.
European Council (Art. 50) conclusions, 21 March 2019
Remarks by President Donald Tusk after the European Council meeting (Art. 50)
As you know, we devoted today's European Council meeting to Brexit. Prime Minister May repeated her requests, to extend the Article 50 period until the 30th of June, and to approve the so-called Strasbourg agreement.
During the discussion among the EU27, the leaders approached these requests in a positive spirit. The European Council decided to approve the Strasbourg agreement. As regards the extension, our decisions envisage two scenarios:
In the first scenario, that is, if the Withdrawal Agreement is passed by the House of Commons next week, the European Council agrees to an extension until the 22nd of May.
In the second scenario, that is, if the Withdrawal Agreement is not approved by the House of Commons next week, the European Council agrees to an extension until the 12th of April, while expecting the United Kingdom to indicate a way forward. What this means in practice is that, until that date, all options will remain open, and the cliff-edge date will be delayed.
The UK Government will still have a choice of a deal, no-deal, a long extension or revoking Article 50. The 12th of April is a key date in terms of the UK deciding whether to hold European Parliament elections. If it has not decided to do so by then, the option of a long extension will automatically become impossible.
As you know, in accordance with the Treaties, any extension must be decided unanimously by the EU27, in agreement with the Member State concerned. This is why I met Prime Minister May several times tonight – to make sure that the UK accepts the extension scenarios – and I am pleased to confirm that we have reached an agreement on this.
European Council conclusions, 22 March 2019
Remarks by President Donald Tusk after the European Council meetings on 21 and 22 March 2019
Today leaders discussed how to best prepare the EU for increasing global economic competition. This means strengthening the European single market and industrial base, which is key for job creation. We also agreed on the need for an open and assertive trade policy. In this context, the European Council called to resume the discussion on the public procurement instrument. We want to reinforce European capacity to deal with technology theft and cybersecurity threats, and we look forward to the Commission's recommendation on the security of 5G networks.
We also discussed the priorities for next month's summit with China. Our aim is to focus on achieving a balanced relation, which ensures fair competition and equal market access. In this context, we hope to persuade China to include industrial subsidies as a crucial element of the WTO reform.
Additionally, leaders were univocal in their determination to tackle climate change with urgency and ambition. Our ministers will intensify work on the EU's climate strategy, to implement the goals set down by the Paris Agreement. We will come back to this issue in June.
As regards Brexit, the European Council formalised last night's decisions by the EU27 and the UK, to delay the cliff-edge and allow for an extension. Personally, I am really happy about this development. As I said yesterday, it means that until the twelfth of April, anything is possible: a deal, a long extension – if the UK decided to re-think its strategy – or revoking Article 50, which is a prerogative of the UK Government. The fate of Brexit is in the hands of our British friends. We are, as EU, prepared for the worst, but hope for the best. As you know, hope dies last. Thank you.
© European Council
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