E.U. Approves a Brexit Extension, but on New Terms

BRUSSELS — European Union leaders on Thursday agreed to extend the deadline for Britain’s looming exit from the bloc, but on terms different from those requested by Prime Minister Theresa May.

Thursday’s agreement is designed to avert the possibility of a disorderly, possibly chaotic, departure by Britain on March 29.

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The president of the European Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker, right, speaking to the news media as he arrives for a European Union meeting in Brussels.CreditFrank Augstein/Associated Press

After hours of talks, the leaders decided that Britain’s exit date will be pushed back to May 22 if next week Mrs. May can persuade lawmakers in Parliament to accept her plan for leaving the bloc, which they have already rejected overwhelmingly, twice.

If she cannot persuade lawmakers to accept her plan, Mrs. May will get a shorter delay in exiting the European Union — until April 12. But Britain could stay in the bloc much longer if it decides it needs more time for a bigger rethink of Brexit, as the process is known.

If Britain got the longer delay, it would have to take part in elections to the European Parliament in May.

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