VILNIUS, Mar 12, BNS - Delaying the date for Britain's withdrawal from the European Union until after the European Parliament elections will create legal problems for Europe, Lithuanian Foreign Minister Linas Linkevicius warned on Tuesday.
Linkevicius said on Ziniu Radijas that all three scenarios – the British parliament's approval of the withdrawal agreement, a no-deal exit and a delay of the Brexit date – were still possible. Decisions are expected to be made this week.
"However, any delay cannot be for a very long period of time, because we know that the European Parliament elections are approaching. Thus, (we must make sure) that there is no turmoil and legal problems in forming the parliament, because all member states must delegate their members," the minister told the radio station.
"If the date is delayed until May 23, that wouldn't be so bad, but if for a longer period, that would lead to legal collisions," he added.
The minister said there were other legal issues due to the uncertainty over Britain's withdrawal.
"This probably shows how unclear the situation is," he said.
British Prime Minister Theresa May said on Monday she had secured "legally binding" guarantees from the EU to help get the Brexit deal through the British parliament, which is to vote on Tuesday whether to back the withdrawal agreement.
Linkevicius said May "could not change the deal" during Monday's talks with European Commissioner President Jean-Claude Juncker "because there are no such powers", adding that only the political declaration could have been amended.
The minister underlined that the United Kingdom remained a "very close ally" of Lithuania, regardless of the final decision on Brexit.
"But the game with the fate of the country is lasting for so long, and it's really very sad to look at all this," he added.
By Ignas Jacauskas