Remarks by President Donald Tusk after the meeting of the European Council (Art. 50) on 17 October 2019

We have concluded a discussion among the leaders about the Brexit deal that our negotiator agreed with the UK government earlier today. First of all, many thanks to Michel Barnier and his team for your outstanding work. The European Council endorsed this deal and it looks like we are very close to the final stretch. Why has a deal that was impossible yesterday, become possible today?

Firstly, the new version of the deal has been positively assessed by Ireland. I’ve said from the beginning that we would always stand behind Ireland, and not force a deal unfavourable to Dublin.

Secondly, the deal has been positively assessed by the European Commission. This gives us certainty that it is favourable and safe for the citizens of the European Union.

The key change in comparison with the earlier version of the deal is Prime Minister Johnson’s acceptance to have customs checks at the points of entry into Northern Ireland. This compromise will allow us to avoid border checks between Ireland and Northern Ireland, and will ensure the integrity of the Single Market.

The reality is that today we have a deal, which allows us to avoid chaos and an atmosphere of conflict between the EU27 and the United Kingdom. Therefore, the European Council invited the Commission, the European Parliament and the Council to ensure that this agreement can enter into force on the 1st of November 2019. Now we are all waiting for the votes in both Parliaments.

On a more personal note, what I feel today is sadness. Because in my heart, I will always be a Remainer. And I hope that if our British friends decide to return one day, our door will always be open.

Visit the meeting page