The EU-27 have found a good compromise for the Brexit shift. He guarantees that London chaos will not jeopardize the European elections – and reveals that confidence in May is minimal.
For more than seven hours, the heads of state and government of the EU-27 discussed at the summit how they would respond to Theresa May's request to postpone the date for Britain's exit from the EU. The end result is a self-confident and balanced multi-scenario compromise that offers opportunities for the British to avert the chaos of a disorderly Brexit whose economic impact would primarily hit the United Kingdom.
More than seven hours have been negotiated, that sounds like a long time, but given the circumstances and scope of their decision, the heads of state and government of the EU-27 have quickly come to an agreement. The two main points: The EU also appears closed on Day 1002 following the Brexit referendum, and reports of an alleged "near-dispute" between Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron and mutual insulting words in the meeting should not overvalued. For nothing less was at stake than the legality of the European elections, which are now protected from being infected by chaos.
A horror scenario was to be avoided: the United Kingdom will not take part in the European elections, which will take place between 23 and 26 May, and suddenly withdraws its resignation in June, thus remaining an EU member. As such, it would have had to organize the European elections, which would make the newly elected representative body, which is constituted on 2 July, ineffective. Millions of citizens would have the best chance of complaining about violations of their rights – chaos, insecurity and a repeat of the election would have been possible consequences that only populists and EU opponents could rejoice and have damaged Europe's image in the world. The Brexit chaos already prevents necessary debates about Europe's dealings with China or the fight against climate change.
So a clever double strategy was designed that goes through several scenarios. Should the lower house agree to the deal on the third attempt next week, UK membership ends on May 22. The country is not participating in the European elections, the transition phase comes into force (hardly anything changes here) and the next stage of negotiations begins. If the lower house says "no" again, the Brexit will be postponed until April 12th. On this day ends the Kingdom's possibility to organize the European elections.
In this case, the EU-27 expect new proposals from London, which would probably have to be discussed at a special summit. If these fail unsatisfactorily, the "hard Brexit" will happen immediately – and the British are well ahead of the European elections. For all other options, such as a new election, a second referendum, resignation from the EU or the British path into a customs union, which would demand for weeks the "substantial change" demanded by Brussels, an extension could be accepted for several months – if beyond of the channel a European election takes place and the heads of state and government give it okay.
That Prime Minister May refuses a longer reprieve, is known. It is true that the EU-27 was not deterred by this plan. Because the confidence in May and their ability to find a majority in their ranks or to agree with the opposition, is now minimal. For 90 minutes, the Briton spoke to the other heads of state and government and was unable to answer urgent questions.
The truth is that no one in Brussels, Paris, Berlin or Rome can know whether May can remain Prime Minister after another defeat, who could succeed her and whether the lower house can at some point make it clear what it wants. The EU-27 make it clear: "We help London where we can, but we respect our interests." Preparations for a no-deal scenario have been going on for weeks. In other words, if London desperately wants the "hard Brexit," EU leaders can tell their constituents that they themselves are not to blame.