WHAT IS THE EU AND WHY IS BRI­TAIN LEAV­ING?

The Denver Post - - BUSINESS -

The EU is a bloc of 28 na­tions shar­ing rel­a­tively open borders, a sin­gle mar­ket in goods and ser­vices and — for 19 na­tions — a sin­gle cur­rency, the euro. Bri­tain joined in 1973 but has long been a some­what re­luc­tant mem­ber, with a large con­tin­gent of eu­roskep­tic politi­cians and jour­nal­ists reg­u­larly rail­ing against reg­u­la­tions im­posed by the EU’s head­quar­ters in Brus­sels.

Former Prime Min­is­ter David Cameron of­fered vot­ers a ref­er­en­dum on EU mem­ber­ship, and in June they voted by 52-48 per­cent to leave.

The tim­ing of Ar­ti­cle 50 was up to Bri­tain. What hap­pens next is up to the EU.

Tusk says that once EU of­fi­cials get Bri­tain’s no­ti­fi­ca­tion, they will re­spond within 48 hours, of­fer­ing draft ne­go­ti­at­ing guide­lines for the 27 re­main­ing mem­ber states to con­sider. Lead­ers of the 27 na­tions then will meet to fi­nal­ize their ne­go­ti­at­ing plat­form.

“Then we meet and we start,” U.K. Brexit Sec­re­tary David Davis said last week. “And I guess the first meet­ing, bluntly, will be about how we do this? How many meet­ings, you know, who’s go­ing to meet, who’s go­ing to come.”

Sub­stan­tial talks may have to wait un­til after France’s two-round AprilMay elec­tion for a new pres­i­dent. An­other hic­cup could be Ger­many’s Septem­ber elec­tion, which will de­ter­mine whether Chan­cel­lor An­gela Merkel gets an­other term. will play a ma­jor role, and the For­eign Of­fice will talk to in­di­vid­ual mem­ber states to try to get them on its side.

On the EU side, it’s com­pli­cated. As Bri­tain’s In­sti­tute for Gov­ern­ment re­cently pointed out, “the U.K. is ne­go­ti­at­ing with 27 mem­ber states, not a uni­fied bloc.”

French diplo­mat Michel Barnier is the chief ne­go­tia­tor for the Euro­pean Com­mis­sion, the bloc’s ex­ec­u­tive arm. He’ll re­ceive di­rec­tion from the Coun­cil, which rep­re­sents the lead­ers of the mem­ber states.

The Euro­pean Par­lia­ment also wants a say, and will have to ap­prove the deal. they are is a top pri­or­ity.

The first ma­jor bat­tle is likely to be about money. The EU says Bri­tain must pay a hefty di­vorce bill of up to $64 bil­lion, to cover EU staff pen­sions and other ex­penses the U.K. has com­mit­ted to. Bri­tain hasn’t ruled out a pay­ment, but is sure to quib­ble over the tab.

There’s also likely to be fric­tion over Bri­tain’s de­sire to have free trade in goods and ser­vices with the bloc, with­out ac­cept­ing the EU’s core prin­ci­ple of free move­ment of work­ers. Bri­tain has said it will im­pose lim­its on im­mi­gra­tion, and so will have to leave the EU’s sin­gle mar­ket and cus­toms union. That makes some bar­ri­ers to trade seem in­evitable. set­tle the di­vorce terms; agree­ing a new re­la­tion­ship between the U.K. and the EU could take years longer. If the rest of the EU agrees, the two-year ne­go­ti­at­ing pe­riod can be ex­tended, with Bri­tain still in the EU. Or, the two sides could agree on a tran­si­tional pe­riod.

There’s also a chance Bri­tain could just walk away.

Bri­tain votes 52 per­cent to 48 per­cent to leave the Euro­pean Union. As the re­sults come in, UKIP leader Nigel Farage pro­claims that this day should be con­sid­ered Bri­tain’s “in­de­pen­dence day”. June. 24: Cameron says he will re­sign in light of the re­sults be­cause Bri­tain needs “fresh lead­er­ship” to take the coun­try in a new di­rec­tion. July. 11: Fol­low­ing a heated lead­er­ship con­test, Home Sec­re­tary Theresa May be­comes Prime Min­is­ter-elect when her com­peti­tors with­draw from the race. Oct. 2: May says that Bri­tain will be­gin the for­mal process of leav­ing the EU by the end of March 2017. In or­der to do this the Bri­tish gov­ern­ment would have to in­voke Ar­ti­cle 50 of the EU’s Lis­bon Treaty. Jan. 24, 2017: The Bri­tish Supreme Court rules that par­lia­men­tary ap­proval is needed be­fore Ar­ti­cle 50 can be trig­gered by gov­ern­ment. March 13: Bri­tain’s Par­lia­ment ap­proves a bill giv­ing the gov­ern­ment the author­ity to in­voke Ar­ti­cle 50 to take Bri­tain out of the EU. Scot­land’s First Min­is­ter Ni­cola Stur­geon, above, says she plans to have a sec­ond ref­er­en­dum on Scot­tish in­de­pen­dence in late 2018 or early 2019.

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