Donald Tusk: "During further extension UK shouldn't be treated as a second-category member"
President of the European Council Donald Tusk said that he hopes the UK government to use Brexit extension in the best possible way, APAreports citing the official website of the European Council.
Donald Tusk said that the Council will be awaiting a clear message from the UK government and if the Withdrawal Agreement were to be ratified, the extension period will automatically end on the first day of the following month, meaning that the UK would leave the Union on that day.
President of the Council stressed that there will be no re-opening of the Withdrawal Agreement. "However, to facilitate the ratification process, the EU27 is ready to reconsider the Political Declaration on the future relationship, if the UK position were to evolve."
Donald Tusk added that a long extension ensures that all options remain on the table, such as ratification of the current Withdrawal Agreement, or extra time to rethink Brexit.
According to the EU official, this extension allows the EU to focus on other priorities that are at least as important, like trade with the US or the new EU leadership.
"I know that some have expressed fear that the UK might want to disrupt the EU's functioning during this time. But the EU27 didn't give in to such fear and scaremongering. In fact, since the very beginning of the Brexit process, the UK has been a constructive and responsible EU member state. And so, we have no reason to believe that this should change," he said.
Commenting on the UK's participation in the European elections next month, Donald Tusk said that the EU should approach this issue seriously.
"UK Members of the European Parliament will be there for several months, maybe longer. They will be full Members of the Parliament, with all their rights and obligations."
President of the Council said that he strongly opposes the idea that during further extension, the UK should be treated as a second-category member state. "No, it cannot. Therefore, I also ask you to reject similar ideas, if they were to be voiced in this House," he said.
"I know that, on both sides of the Channel, everyone, including myself, is exhausted with Brexit, which is completely understandable. However, this is not an excuse to say: "let's get it over with", just because we're tired. We must continue to deal with Brexit with an open mind, and in a civilised manner. Because whatever happens, we are bound by common fate, and we want to remain friends and close partners in the future."
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