WHAT IS THE EU AND WHY IS BRITAIN LEAVING?
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.