Minister for European Affairs George Ciamba chaired a new meeting of the General Affairs Council (Article 50) organised under the aegis of the Romanian Presidency of the Council of the European Union in Luxembourg on Tuesday, April 9, 2019. Prior to the meeting of the General Affairs Council (Article 50), the minister of European affairs, acting as President-in-Office of the Council of the European Union, had a consultation session with Michel Barnier, European Union’s Chief Negotiator for Brexit.
At the meeting of the General Affairs Council (Article 50), the European official presented the latest developments in the Brexit process, marked by a new negative vote by the British Parliament on the Withdrawal Agreement, as well as by the British legislative’s rejection of alternatives to the possible post-Brexit EU-UK cooperation formulas.
At the same time, the European official assessed the possibility of a further extension of the period provided for in Article 50 and deemed that a decision in this respect would involve political and economic costs for the Union. At the same time, he stated that the European Union remains firmly committed to ensuring an orderly withdrawal of Great Britain and reiterated the willingness to amend the Political Declaration to reflect a more ambitious level regarding the future partnership between the two parties.
Ministers for European affairs had a substantial exchange of opinions on the options currently available, as well as on the conditions for granting a further extension as per Article 50.
Minister for European Affairs George Ciamba said a decision in this respect would be adopted by European leaders unanimously, after a thorough analysis of the British Government’s request, taking into account the need to safeguard the strategic interests of the Union.
The Romanian official also said that any extension may not imply reopening the Withdrawal Agreement or the negotiation of future relations. Similarly, the commitment to organise EP elections in the UK is an essential prerequisite for adopting a decision in favour of a further extension. Minister for European Affairs George Ciamba reiterated the necessity for the British Government to submit a concrete, credible plan, as well as the purpose for which it could use a possible extension. He expressed the hope that the dialogue between parties would materialise in a compromise solution that would allow the advancement of the process. “The letter from the British Prime Minister includes a welcome commitment to holding European elections in the event of an extension of Article 50 going beyond May 22. In order to decide on a possible extension, EU leaders will need more clarity from London,” stressed George Ciamba.
At the same time, the Romanian official pointed out that member states and the European Union had prepared thoroughly for the possibility of a disorderly withdrawal by adopting the necessary contingency measures to limit the disruptive effects of that scenario. Minister Ciamba reminded of the substantial progress made by the Romanian Presidency in adopting the preparedness and contingency measures in the event of UK’s withdrawal from the EU without an agreement.
The Romanian official reiterated the major priority of the Romanian mandate at the Presidency of the Council of the European Union in maintaining EU27 unity and defining a coherent and coordinated approach to respond to the latest developments.