Minister: UK post-Brexit deal with EU may take more than 10 years
The United Kingdom’s post-Brexit trade deal with the European Union (EU) could take more than a decade to conclude, said Danish Foreign Minister Anders Samuelsen.
“We will find a solution,” said Samuelsen. “The question is, can we do it in two years or will we take 15 years? We don’t know.”
The UK wants discussions over its trading arrangement to take place during the two-year period allotted for withdrawal talks. But many EU officials, including chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier, rejected the idea, saying the bloc would only talk about the future once other elements, such as Britain’s exit bill and the status of EU nationals in the UK, were settled.
Regardless of whether Britain has secured a new trade deal, it will leave the EU about two years after the start of negotiations. Exiting without a future arrangement is something that the UK Brexit Secretary David Davis had said was an “unlikely scenario” but one that Britain must be prepared for. Asked about Samuelsen’s comments at an EU summit here on Thursday, the UK Prime Minister Theresa May said she was still working to a two-year deadline — although she hinted that she wasn’t necessarily talking about the trade deal being fully concluded in that time, only its “framework”.
Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty, which sets out the EU exit process, states “the framework for the future relationship actually should take the two years”, she said.
Samuelsen, who met with Davis last week, said the order of talks was one of the most pressing priorities once May triggered Article 50, which she had vowed to do before the end of the month.
“That of course was part of our discussion; we know that the British want to wait” to settle everything as one overarching agreement at the end,” said Samuelsen. “Everybody is, in fact, ready. We’re just waiting now and then we have to decide what questions will be put on the table first.”