Just minutes after the UK confirmed that Prime Minister Theresa May sent a letter to European Council President Donald Tusk, the EU Commission said major institutional difficulties and legal uncertainties would be unleashed if an extension for Brexit extends beyond the European Parliament elections in May.
According to the European Commission’s chief spokesperson, President Jean-Claude Juncker “formally warned May against including a date for the extension that comes after the European Parliament elections. The withdrawal has to be before 23 May.”
May faced a “binary” choice of a short delay from 29 March to before 23 May 23, or a long delay to at least the end of this year. “Any extension offered to the United Kingdom should either last until 23 May or it should be significantly longer and require European elections,” according to note prepared by the Commission. “This is the only way of protecting the functioning of the EU institutions and their ability to make decisions.”
Brussels wants to know if additional MEP seats will be granted to the ones that the new plenary proportions suggest. The EU countries want to know by mid- to late April if they would be denied those seats because the UK would remain in the bloc for the time being.
According to May’s letter, the British government is not prepared to delay Brexit any further than 30 June. Her government intends to bring forward proposals for a third meaningful vote in the House of Commons.