Tusk confirms Brexit transition offer to Britain
EU leaders will approve a post-Brexit transition offer to Britain on Friday, summit chair Donald Tusk said on Wednesday after reservations expressed by Spain over Gibraltar had held up the confirmation.
Telling reporters that he had “good news” for British Prime Minister Theresa May, Tusk said: “I have just recommended to [the 27 European] leaders that we welcome, in principle, the agreement on transition.”
The executive European Commission struck a deal on Monday with British negotiators on a 21-month, status quo transition to follow Britain’s exit from the EU next March.
Tusk sought the consent of all 27 other member states to ensure leaders would endorse the interim accord at Friday’s summit.
However, Madrid had voiced concern about how the interim accord would affect its demands for a final say on how Brexit affects Britain’s territory of Gibraltar on Spain’s south coast.
Diplomats had been discussing how to ensure Spanish consent to endorsing the deal until shortly before Tusk spoke.
EU chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier and his British counterpart, David Davis, agreed on Monday on the key elements of a deal to soften the transition once Britain leaves the European Union on March 29, 2019.
Tusk says it will allow both sides “to delay all the negative consequences from Brexit by another 21 months.”
The proposal leaves open several areas of potential conflict, none bigger than the Irish border where the EU’s Republic of Ireland and the United Kingdom’s Northern Ireland will meet.