European Parliament group leaders have adopted a declaration setting a Brexit deadline date of Sunday to ensure a deal is achieved.
The declaration from the Conference of Presidents, initiated by Spanish member Iratxe Garcia Perez, states they are ready to hold an extraordinary session at the end of December if an agreement is reached by midnight on Sunday December 21.
It also calls for a provisional text of the Brexit agreement to be made available to European Parliament members as soon as possible.
The declaration acknowledges the “exceptional nature” of the proceedings and commends the “dedicated and professional work” of Brexit negotiators in the UK and EU.
Leading German MEP Manfred Weber, who leads the centre-right European People’s Party group in the European Parliament, explained: “I have proposed to EU Parliament leadership this morning that we should only approve a Brexit agreement if we get it by this Sunday.
“After that we cannot reasonably scrutinise the deal before the end of the year. The agreement is too important to rush through Parliament.
“We owe it to the people and businesses in our constituencies who will be heavily affected by Brexit, to scrutinise the deal appropriately. After Sunday we don’t believe this would still be possible.”
The politician later added on Twitter: “I have proposed to the European Parliament leadership this morning that we should only approve a Brexit agreement if we get it until this Sunday. After that we cannot reasonably scrutinize the deal before the end of the year.
“The agreement is too important to rush through Parliament.
“We owe it to the people and businesses in our constituencies who will be heavily affected by Brexit, to scrutinize the deal appropriately. After Sunday we don’t believe this would still be possible.”
Romanian MEP Dacian Cioloș, leader of the liberal Renew group, said: “We give until Sunday to Boris Johnson to make a decision. The uncertainty hanging over citizens and businesses as a result of UK choices becomes intolerable.”
“Michel Barnier and his team has our full support as we head to the Brexit moment of truth.”
But Green MEP Philippe Lamberts warned to “expedite” the consent process would be a “severe blow to the credibility” of the parliament.
“This massive treaty would be expedited in a few days between Christmas and New Year, making a joke of the scrutiny process. Consent to international treaties should never be treated as a formality.
“Checks and balances and due process are essential elements of any democracy; such should be the case for the European Union as the world’s first venture into a transnational democracy.”