UK will press the Brexit button on 29 March

David DavisBritish Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union David Davis leaves 10 Downing Street in London, after attending a cabinet meeting.AP Photo/Matt Dunham)

Britain is on track with Brexit. The formal process of withdrawal from the EU will be initiated on Wednesday 29 March.

– We are at the threshold of the main proceedings of a generation for this country, said Britain’s Brexitminister David Davis.

He has now confirmed that the start of the formal process of withdrawal from the EU is set to Wednesday 29 March. The British will then send a letter to the EU where they make it clear that they intend to leave the union. British Prime Minister Theresa May is to give a speech in Parliament the same day.

Britain’s EU Ambassador Tim Barrow gave the office of the EU president Donald Tusk a briefing on the plans on Monday morning.

Is ready to negotiate
From EU’s side, everything is ready, assured the EU Commission spokesman Margaritis Schin.

– We are ready to start negotiations. We are waiting for the letter, and now we know that it will come on March 29, said Schin.

The next step is for the EU countries to adopt a set of guidelines for the negotiations, he said. When this has  happened, the European Commission’s negotiating team will  formally  request a mandated to initiate. This mandate must be agreed by member states.

Tusk writes on Twitter that he will put forward a draft policy within 48 hours after the letter from the UK has been received.

It is expected that the 27 countries that remain in the EU will hold an extraordinary summit on this issue in April.

Difficult negotiations

The divorce settlement is likely to be very difficult. Amongst other things, it is expected that the EU might require up to 60 billion euros from the United Kingdom to cover ongoing budget expenses that the Britons have already helped to agree on. This is a sum the Brits will not readily accept.
Another important question is what will happen with the EU citizens in the UK and Britons in the EU.

The Brexit process has also created fierce divisions within the UK, and especially the Scots have warned that they will fight to retain membership in the EU Single market.

Two years
According to the Lisbon Treaty Article 50, one can negotiate for up to two years after the formal withdrawal procedure has been initiated.

The negotiation period may be extended if the countries unanimously agree on it.

If the negotiation period expires  without an agreement, the United Kingdom will be thrown out of the EU without any new deals. Prime Minister May have been aware that this outcome cannot be excluded, and said that no deal would be better for Britain than a bad deal.

The EU negotiating team will be headed by the French Michel Barnier. He also has a Norwegian – Georg Riekeles – on his team.


Source: NTB scanpix / Norway Today