EU leaders meet to give Britain second Brexit delay under conditions
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European Union leaders Wednesday meet in Brussels to grant Britain a second Brexit delay, with France pushing the hardest demands on London among the 27 states staying on together in the bloc.

Germany, France, Luxembourg and the EU's Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier favored a short delay of the date of Britain's departure in talks on the eve of a summit of EU leaders in Brussels, officials said.

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Those backing a shorter respite for Britain said it would keep up the pressure on the House of Commons to ratify the stalled EU exit deal.

The Netherlands and the Czech Republic preferred a longer postponement, saying it could scare staunch Brexit supporters in Britain into backing the exit deal over fear their project might never materialize at all.

France's President Emmanuel Macron (L) shakes hands with Belgium's Prime Minister Charles Michel as he arrives for a mini-summit ahead of a European Council meeting on Brexit in Brussels, April 10, 2019. /VCG Photo

France's President Emmanuel Macron (L) shakes hands with Belgium's Prime Minister Charles Michel as he arrives for a mini-summit ahead of a European Council meeting on Brexit in Brussels, April 10, 2019. /VCG Photo

"It is very well possible that we will decide to prevent a no deal Brexit tonight," said Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte. "We will have several important discussions, on how long will an extension be and what conditions will be attached to it. There are differing opinions about that."

"We need to make sure that the EU can function, that all member states cooperate loyally," he stressed.

Ireland's Prime Minister Leo Varadkar (L) gets out of his car as he arrives ahead of a European Council meeting on Brexit at the Europa Building at the European Parliament in Brussels, April 10, 2019. /VCG Photo

Ireland's Prime Minister Leo Varadkar (L) gets out of his car as he arrives ahead of a European Council meeting on Brexit at the Europa Building at the European Parliament in Brussels, April 10, 2019. /VCG Photo

Barnier also said, should the UK opt for a customs union with the EU after Brexit, it would solve the problem of customs checks on the sensitive Irish border, but industry regulation checks would still be required, the officials said.

Denmark demanded an orderly Brexit, said its Prime Minister Lokke Rasmussen while Belgium was still uncertain whether to grant the UK a delay. "It is not certain there will be a delay. It is not certain what that would mean," Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel said at the summit.

On Tuesday, British Prime Minister Theresa May toured Berlin and Paris to ask for a second extension to the deadline for Brexit from April 12 to June 30.

(Cover: EU flags fly from flag poles outside the Berlaymont building ahead of a EU leaders summit in Brussels, Belgium, April 10, 2019. /VCG Photo)

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Source(s): Reuters