The EU would end Britain's membership on 1 July on 1 July if the country did not attend the European Parliament elections. This was leaked, revealing the conditions for delaying the Brexit.
The document sent to the EU Ambassadors on Friday by the Financial Times indicates that Britain will have to vote on 23-26 May if it intends to extend more than three months.
The extension of British membership beyond March 29th will be debated at a summit meeting next week by EU leaders, and European capitals are disagreeing on the terms and duration of a delay. Any decision requires the unanimous approval of 27 remaining EU leaders and the United Kingdom.
The document clarifies the legal restrictions for the EU on possible enlargement. It warns that the EU institutions "would stop working in a secure legal context" if Britain stays in the EU after July 1 without holding elections.
The legal conclusion could help Theresa May in her efforts to convince the recalcitrant Brexiters to support their resignation agreement in a third vote on the Agreement next week in the House of Commons.
The British Prime Minister has warned that if the United Kingdom rejects its agreement, it will have to seek a much longer extension. This would force the conservative party into an election campaign that it does not want to fight.
"No extension should be granted beyond July 1, unless the European Parliament elections are held on the compulsory date," the paper said. "If they are not held, the extension should be ended before the European Parliament's meeting on 2 July."
European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said this week that Britain will have to leave the EU by 22 May if she does not want to vote. Instead, the newspaper focuses on July 2 – when newly elected MEPs will take their place.
Ms. May received overwhelming support from the House of Commons on Thursday to request an extension until June 30, if she could receive a majority vote for her Brexit deal for the third time.
Donald Tusk, President of the European Council of Member States, said he would point out to heads of state that it would be best to give Britain a longer deadline to "reconsider" its Brexit approach. However, many EU capitals are concerned about the consequences if the UK remains in abeyance for a long time.
However, in addition to the "essential" duty to conduct elections, the paper makes it clear that other Member States will find it difficult to apply other conditions for renewal. It is said that the EU Treaty "does not provide that an extension could be granted under special conditions expressly addressed to the withdrawing state".
This may dispel the UK's concern that, for example, Spain is seeking additional concessions on Gibraltar – an area that has long been controversial between Madrid and London – as a condition for approval of an extension.
If there is a long extension, France also wants to limit the influence of the UK during long-term EU budget negotiations or the appointment of top positions.
The paper emphasizes separately that trade negotiations with London during the extension period would be impossible, as the United Kingdom would not have left the union, and brought the arguments of some Brexiters.
This point was underlined by Michel Barnier, the EU's chief negotiator in the context of Brexit, in the discussion with the ambassadors. "Consequently, a longer extension would result in a significant shift in the opening [trade] Negotiation, "the newspaper said.
The strongest conclusions of the paper refer to the dangers that allow the UK to remain a Member State without fulfilling its electoral obligations.
The document argues that the European Council of Block Leaders should ensure that the EU is not "paralyzed by the consequences of enlargement".
"All acts of the Union in which an irregularly constituted parliament would participate could therefore be challenged by law, which would seriously jeopardize the security of legal relations in the Union to a very high degree." the paper ended.
A second enlargement is possible 'in principle' but the document argues that it would depend on the United Kingdom sending MEPs to the European Parliament, as required by law.
An amendment to these electoral laws would require a treaty. "Past experience shows that ratification by all Member States can take at least two years," officials said. "Therefore this possibility is not realizable in practice."