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EU set to agree to a Brexit extension until January

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Via CNBC

Prime Minister Boris Johnson speaks at a press conference in Brussels after meeting his EU counterparts.

Photonews | Photonews | Getty Images

The European Union is set to give the U.K. three more months to exit the bloc, according to a draft document seen by CNBC.

European ambassadors are due to meet Monday morning to discuss once again the U.K.’s request to have more time to prepare its departure. A draft document prepared ahead of that meeting, signed on October 27, shows that the EU is set to grant a third Brexit delay, “which ends at the latest on 31 January 2020.”

“With a view to allowing for the finalisation of all steps necessary for the ratification of the Withdrawal Agreement, including the obtaining of the consent of the European Parliament, the European Council agrees to a further extension,” the document says.

“It notes that the Withdrawal Agreement will enter into force on the first day of the month following the completion of the ratification procedures by the Parties during this period, which ends at the latest on 31 January 2020,” the same document states.

The U.K. asked the EU earlier this month to be given until January 31 to leave the EU. A few days later, the U.K. Parliament voted in favor of Prime Minister Boris Johnson‘s revised Withdrawal Agreement, but said once again that it needed more time to approve all the necessary legislation.

The U.K. was scheduled to leave the EU on October 31 – after being granted two previous Brexit extensions.

Sterling was trading about 0.25% up against the dollar in the early trading hours of Europe.

Strings attached

Nonetheless, the European Union is set to exclude any future renegotiation on the U.K.’s departure.

“The European Council firmly states that it excludes any reopening of the Withdrawal Agreement in the future and recalls that any unilateral commitment, statement or other act by the United Kingdom should be compatible with the letter and the spirit of the Withdrawal Agreement, and must not hamper its implementation,” the document said.

The 27 European countries had concluded with the U.K. government last year a deal stating how the latter should leave the EU – the Withdrawal Agreement. However, the U.K. government, under the leadership of Theresa May, failed to get it ratified by the U.K. parliament due to the controversial Irish backstop — an insurance policy that would be implemented if the EU and the U.K. were not to sign a trade deal in the coming years and would divide Northern Ireland from the rest of the UK in terms of customs territory.

The EU ended up revising that agreement with the new U.K. government, led by Boris Johnson – which was concluded earlier this month.

According to the same draft document, the EU is set to remind the U.K. that for as long as it remains a member of the EU, it has the “obligation” to suggest a commissioner to be based in Brussels.

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Less time for trade talks

Another extension means that the U.K. and the EU will have less time to negotiate a trade deal.

Once the U.K. leaves the EU, under the ratified deal, there will be a transition period until the end of 2020, which could be extended until the end of 2022. The longer the U.K. takes to leave the EU, the shorter this transition period will be. During the transition period, both sides will look to negotiate a trade agreement.


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