Macron Adamant On Brexit Delay - EU Hasn’t Decided Yet
French President Emmanuel Macron insisted on Wednesday that nothing had been decided on granting the UK an extension to Brexit. The European Council is meeting to discuss a request from British Prime Minister Theresa May delaying Brexit until 30 June.
“We have negotiated for two years for an agreement over Brexit, we must now make decisions,” Macron said in a series of tweets shortly after the start of the special European Council meeting.
“The British people have decided to quit the European Union. I regret this choice, it is not something that I support,” said Macron. “But it is not up to us to challenge it, to come back to it or to do everything so that it is not applied.”
May hopes that European leaders will give her more time to get her controversial withdrawal plan through the British parliament. While European Council President Donald Tusk has tabled a so-called “flextension” that could delay Brexit from up to nine months to a year.
“What's essential – that nothing compromises the European project,” said Macron. “We have a European renaissance to lead, I believe very deeply in it and I do not want the subject of Brexit to block us.”
Macron has been keen to take a tougher stance on the UK and insisted that May must provide more guarantees that any delay to Brexit would serve a real purpose.
“Any extension has to be useful and serve a purpose, and our common purpose is to get the ratification of the withdrawal agreement,” said Michel Barnier, the EU's chief Brexit negotiator. “This withdrawal agreement is the only way to ensure an orderly withdrawal of the UK, which is our common interest,” he told journalists on arrival at the meeting in Brussels.
The meeting started with European leaders taking part in a question and answer session with May. Discussions between the bloc's 27 leaders could continue late into Wednesday evening.