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EU leader Michel to represent UK at summit


European Council President Charles Michel looks on after a meeting with French President at the Elysee Palace in Paris, on December 10, 2019. (Photo by ludovic MARIN / AFP)

The new president of the European Council, Belgium’s former Belgian Charles Michel, will represent Britain at this week’s EU summit, a UK spokesman said Wednesday.

European leaders are to begin their Brussels meeting on Thursday, the same day as British voters go to the polls in an election dominated by the issue of Brexit.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who has vowed to complete Britain’s EU withdrawal by January 31, will be awaiting the result of the parliamentary poll.


“In line with common practice, the UK has passed its vote to the President of the European Council to exercise on its behalf,” the UK spokesman said.

The first day of the European summit will focus on plans to transition the continental bloc to a carbon-neutral economy by 2050 and on a new seven-year budget.

But on Friday, after the British election results come in, the leaders will meet without British officials to discuss launching post-Brexit trade talks.

If Johnson wins a working parliamentary majority he should be able to ratify an orderly divorce agreement with Britain’s European partners and leave as planned.

Under this scenario, the leaders would then have only until the end of December and the post-Brexit transition period to agree on new trading terms.


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