LONDON — The British government accepted an EU request for extra time to ratify the Brexit trade deal, after Brussels said it needed two more months to scrutinize it in 24 languages.
Cabinet Office Minister Michael Gove announced the decision Tuesday, saying a delay in ratification was not the U.K.’s “preferred outcome given the uncertainty it creates for individuals and businesses.”
In a letter to European Commission Vice-President Maroš Šefčovič, Gove said “extending the period of provisional application prolongs that uncertainty.” He added he hoped this would be enough and that no further extensions would be sought by the EU.
Under the terms of the treaty, both sides had to ratify the deal by February 28, when its provisional application is due to expire. But the Commission said on February 10 that it would seek a “technical,” two-month extension.
The Commission said extension to April 30 was necessary “to allow the time needed for the completion of the legal-linguistic revision of the Agreement in all 24 languages for its scrutiny by the European Parliament and the Council.”
Gove said during the period of provisional application, the U.K. does not believe the EU-U.K. Joint Partnership Council and other bodies required in the Brexit trade deal should begin their work formally, except “where there are essential decisions which cannot be deferred.”
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