French President Emmanuel Macron said on Wednesday that the European Union would only agree to extend the Brexit deadline beyond March 29 if Britain justified a delay with a clear objective and new choices, Trend reports citing Reuters.
The United Kingdom is due to leave in 30 days but Prime Minister Theresa May has so far failed to get parliament to ratify the deal she agreed in November, so on Tuesday she opened up the possibility of a delay until the end of June.
European leaders want to avoid a disorderly no-deal Brexit that would send shockwaves through the $16 trillion economy of the EU 27, though they are also exasperated at Britain’s labyrinthine divorce crisis and want to move on.
“If the British need more time, we would support an extension request if it was justified by new choices from the British,” Macron told a joint news briefing with Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel in Paris.
“But we would in no way accept an extension without a clear view on the objective pursued,” he added. “As our negotiator Michel Barnier said, we don’t need more time, we need decisions.”
French officials have said Paris would only agree to delay Brexit if that came with a credible solution, for example if Britain called an election, held a second referendum, or presented a new plan that was acceptable to all sides but needed more time to be finalised.
Merkel said she was “totally on the same line” as Macron but appeared more willing to show flexibility.
“If Britain needs some more time, we won’t refuse but we are striving for an orderly solution i.e. an orderly exit of Britain from the European Union,” she said. “We regret this step but it is reality and we must now find a good solution.”