A unanimous agreement of the EU-27 heads of state and government was reached in Brussels, just before midnight, extending the original 29 March, 2019 deadline to April 12, 2019 – just two weeks down the road, giving the UK more time to figure out what Brexit will finally look like. If the UK parliament approves Theresa May’s deal next week, the new date will instead be May 22, 2019.
According to the different scenarios to be drawn from the conclusions of the Brexit summit that were approved by all EU leaders, the Article 50 process will be delayed even further than April, if the UK chooses a longer extension and provides the bloc with a plan to take part in the May 2019 European elections.
If the third meaningful vote is not approved, then the Brexit limbo will be extended till the12 April deadline agreed at the Council, allowing the UK time to get the deal through or to “indicate a way forward”. As the European Council president Donald Tusk confirmed to journalists after the end of the EU Summit’s first day, the UK prime minister Theresa May has agreed to the EU-27 extension proposal, even if her letter to the `European Council initially requested a June 30, 2019 cliff-edge extension date.
All options remain on the table: an approval of the Withdrawal Agreement and the Strasbourg package by the House of Commons and an orderly Brexit, a no-deal Brexit, a long extension of the Article 50, and finally the opportunity for the UK to revoke Article 50.
The conclusions approved by the leaders are as follows:
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.6. The European Council will remain seized of the matter.