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POLAND: Brexit Extension

EU leaders met yesterday at a special European Council summit to discuss a further Brexit extension requested by UK PM Theresa May. Without an extension, the UK was set to leave on April 12. While PM May requested an extension until June 30, President of the European Council Donald Tusk proposed a longer extension (up to a year) in order to avoid reoccurring meetings which yield short extensions, and ‘cliff-edge’ deadlines. In the end, the new deadline has been extended until October 31st 2019. This is a flexible deadline which will allow the UK to leave as soon as there is internal agreement on a deal in Westminster.

Ahead of the summit, Poland’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Jacek Czaputowicz spoke out in favor of an extension and pointed out that the worst-case scenario is a no-deal Brexit, which should be avoided at all costs. A senior German official expressed that Germany has a similar stance to Czaputowicz. However, discussions went on until 2 am as other EU leaders, such as French President Macron, had strong reservations about granting another extension without the UK first presenting a clear plan of action. In the end, Macron’s reservations limited the extension from a full year to six months. Many argue that now Brexit will serve as a distracting backdrop for next month’s European Elections; the UK will have to participate if PM May is unable to bring a deal before that. Still, avoiding a no-deal withdrawal was the imperative for most players.