BRUSSELS, April 11. /TASS/. The leaders of the 27 European Union member states have agreed to grant another delay for Brexit, until recently scheduled for April 21, European Council President Donald Tusk said on Thursday.
"U27 has agreed an extension of Art. 50. I will now meet PM @theresa_may for the UK government's agreement," he said.
Later, Tusk told reporters in Brussels that the European Union and the United Kingdom have agreed to once again delay Brexit, this time until October 31.
"Tonight, the European Council decided to grant the United Kingdom a flexible extension of the Article 50 period until the 31st of October," he told reporters. "This means an additional six months for the UK."
He said that the ball was now in London’s court, but the withdrawal agreement between the European Union and the United Kingdom, earlier rejected by the British parliament three times, cannot be renegotiated.
"During this time, the course of action will be entirely in the UK hands. It can still ratify the withdrawal agreement, in which case the extension will be terminated. It can also reconsider the whole exit strategy. That might lead to changes in the political declaration, but not in the withdrawal agreement," Tusk continued.
"Until the end of this period, the UK will also have the possibility to revoke Article 50 and cancel Brexit altogether," he added.
An EU source earlier told reporters on the sidelines of the summit that UK Prime Minister Theresa May disagreed with several conditions for the delay.
European Commission President Jean Claude Juncker, who was also present at the conference, said the United Kingdom will have to hold elections to the European Parliament on May 23-26 if it wants the extension to remain in place.
A source told TASS on the sidelines of the EU summit that the leaders have tentatively agreed to delay Brexit until October 31, but the final decision will be made after talks with UK Prime Minister Theresa May. When asked why this date was chosen, the source explained that the decision was linked to the European Commission reshuffle, scheduled for autumn.
The United Kingdom should leave the European Union on June 1 if it chooses not to hold European Parliament elections on May 23-26, the 27 EU member states said in a statement.
"If the United Kingdom is still a Member State on 23-26 May 2019, and if it has not ratified the Withdrawal Agreement by 22 May 2019, it will be under an obligation to hold the elections to the European Parliament in accordance with Union law. In the event that those elections do not take place in the United Kingdom, the extension should cease on 31 May 2019," the statement reads.
"The European Council takes note of the commitment by the United Kingdom to act in a constructive and responsible manner throughout the extension period in accordance with the duty of sincere cooperation, and expects the United Kingdom to fulfill this commitment and Treaty obligation in a manner that reflects its situation as a withdrawing Member State," the document continues.
"To this effect, the United Kingdom shall facilitate the achievement of the Union’s tasks and shall refrain from any measure which could jeopardise the attainment of the Union’s objectives, in particular when participating in the decision-making processes of the Union," it says.