• Diego Sánchez Borjas

The Challenges Ahead of Sunday’s EU Extraordinary Summit


As scheduled, the European Council is now entitled, under the Commission recommendations (Article 50.2 TEU), to adopt a decision by qualified majority (Article 6 TFEU) on the agreement accepted by the negotiating teams (the Withdrawal Agreement). This is a question the EU 27 Heads of State and Government, and, the Commission and Council Presidents do indeed have to respond to in a scenario which has been unprecedented since the year the EU’s conception.

Nevertheless, the brief and concise up-to-date insight written below intends to explain the most relevant events the summit would have to deal with on Sunday.

Can the EU truly rely on the British Government position to undertake its mandate and strive for its official withdrawal on March 20th, 2019?

Whenever a binding treaty is closer to its conclusion phase (the moment the parties that have intervened in the elaboration and negotiation of the text, vote on whether they accept the final text to become a binding and valid legal instrument), all parties must transmit full assurances of their commitment to ensure the entry into force and implementation of the treaty-to-be’s terms. Otherwise, there would be no sense to move forward to any of the next steps if no clear willingness to continue upholding the Brexit mandate, notified to the Council in 2017, exists.

The DUP leader’s announcement on her continued support for the Prime Minister –until this week has apparently encouraged the EU 27 to be confident of the UK government’s ability to endorse its position to Parliament. However, three further unpredictable political threats remain. First, the reluctance of approximately twenty-five Tory backbenchers to support the PM’s decision on the agreement (led by Conservative MP Jacob Rees-Mogg) and, second, the fierce opposition from other parties (led foremost by Leader of the Opposition, Jeremy Corbyn) to the 585-page long Agreement, being discussed amongst other things on Sunday. A third is the People’s Vote movement which is shifting political discourse towards talk of a second referendum to resolve Brexit in the event of a parliamentary deadlock. As of today, the very issue regarding the real cost of implementing a customs system and the status of Northern Ireland (Protocol on Ireland/Northern Ireland) raised concerns amongst both Leave and Remain MPs.