EU-27 heads of government endorse the #BrexitDeal 

| October 17, 2019

EU Chief Negotiator – Michel Barnier, Irish Taoiseach – Leo Varadkar, President of the European Council – Donald Tusk, President of the European Commission – Jean-Claude Juncker

The European Council endorsed the newly minted Brexit deal. President of the European Council Donald Tusk said that it looked like the agreement was close to its final stretch, writes Catherine Feore.

Tusk explained why a deal that was impossible yesterday, had become possible today. Standing beside Irish Taoiseach Leo Varadkar he said that Ireland had been key, the positive assessment given by the Taoiseach meant fellow EU members could also support the deal.  

Secondly, leaders were reassured that the European Commission could describe the agreement as legally operable. An important compromise on the British side had been the agreement to place custom checks on the sea border avoiding the need for checks at the border between Ireland and Northern Ireland, ensuring the integrity of the Single Market. 

On a more personal note, Tusk added that what he felt was sadness. He said that in his heart he would always be a Remainer. And hope that should the British decide to return one day, the door would be open.  

Tusk called on the European Parliament and the Council to take the necessary steps to ensure that the agreement can enter into force on 1 November 2019, to allow for an orderly withdrawal. It will of course have to be approved by the British Parliament. 

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson also held a press conference following the announcement. Johnson claimed that it was a great deal for the UK and added that the UK would regain control of its money, borders and laws.  He also said that the UK would now be free ‘to do’ free trade agreements around the world.  

Johnson said that the ‘extraction having been done, the building of relations between the UK and its EU friends and partners could begin. He said that he was very confident that the Parliament would vote for it on Saturday.  

President of the European Commission Jean-Claude Juncker said:  

“We have a deal. And this deal means that there is no need for any kind of prolongation. 

This is a fair and balanced agreement. It is a testament to our commitment to finding solutions. 

It provides certainty where Brexit creates uncertainty. It protects the rights of our citizens and it protects peace and stability on the island of Ireland. There will be no border on the island of Ireland. And the Single Market will be protected. 

This deal is not about us, the deal is about people and peace.” 

The EU’s Chief Negotiator Michel Barnier, also echoed saying that his main concern throughout was the peace process in Northern Ireland.  

Irish Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said that he had made two observations. He congratulated the EU on its unity, he said that it shows that Europe can achieve its objectives when united. He also said that he had appreciated the solidarity of other EU states. He said the new protocol on Ireland and Northern Ireland presented a unique solution, that met the unique needs of Northern Ireland’s history and geography.

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