The UK and the EU have now agreed a further Brexit delay. The European Council decision of 11 April 2019 (agreed by the UK) sets out the details of this "Brextension".

31 October 2019

Article 1 of the European Council decision extends the negotiating period provided for in Article 50(3) Treaty on European Union (TEU) and delays exit date until 31 October 2019. The extension is said to "allow for the ratification of the Withdrawal Agreement by both Parties."

But we may go sooner

Article 50(3) TEU itself provides for an earlier exit date: "The Treaties shall cease to apply to the State in question from the date of entry into force of the Withdrawal Agreement [...]." Accordingly, the Council decision emphasises that "should the parties complete their respective ratification procedures before 31 October 2019", the UK would leave the EU "on the first day of the month following the completion of the ratification procedure".

31 May 2019

The Council decision provides for a third possible exit date, with Article 2 providing that "this decision shall cease to apply on 31 May 2019" (i.e. the UK would exit the EU) if the UK does not ratify the Withdrawal Agreement before the European Parliament elections (23-26 May) and does not hold those elections. For more information on the UK's obligations regarding the EP elections read our latest legal update here.

Principle of sincere cooperation

In addition, the Council decision records the UK's commitment "to act in a constructive and responsible manner throughout the extension period in accordance with the duty of sincere cooperation" and the EU's expectation that the UK shall fulfil its Treaty obligations and shall "refrain from any measure which could jeopardise" the EU's objectives, especially when participating in the decision-making process of the EU.

The decision does not include any provision for sanction should the UK breach this principle (which is in any event a feature of EU membership).