By Alice Ritchie / with Danny Kemp in Brussels
London, United Kingdom (AFP) — Britain mentioned Monday it’s going to launch the process of leaving the European Union on March 29, setting a historic and uncharted course to develop into the primary nation to withdraw from the bloc by March 2019.
Nine months after the beautiful referendum vote for Brexit, Prime Minister Theresa May’s authorities will lastly set off Article 50 of the EU’s Lisbon Treaty next week, beginning a two-year departure.
“We are on the threshold of the most important negotiation for this country for a generation,” mentioned Brexit minister David Davis.
The European Commission mentioned instantly that it was prepared to start negotiations, though a source in Brussels mentioned it could take “four to six weeks” to prepare a summit to agree a typical EU place.
Britain is likely one of the oldest and largest members of the 28-nation bloc, and its departure has raised fears for the EU’s future as euroskeptic actions acquire help throughout the continent.
London has repeatedly mentioned it needs to preserve good relations with its European allies, however main battles await, particularly over funds contributions, immigration and future commerce ties.
Britain has mentioned it needs to agree its divorce and a brand new relationship with Europe throughout the two years.
“We are going to be out there, negotiating hard, delivering on what the British people voted for,” May mentioned on Monday.
But lawmakers have warned that her authorities should put together for the chance they could fail — and for Britain to crash out of the EU with no settlement in place.
EU seeks ‘realism’
The prime minister has lengthy mentioned she would begin the Article 50 process by the tip of this month.
Britain’s ambassador to the EU, Tim Barrow, on Monday knowledgeable the workplace of EU President Donald Tusk that it could achieve this on March 29, May’s spokesperson advised reporters.
“We wish the talks to begin promptly, but we fully respect that the 27 (other EU nations) will want to agree their position in advance,” the spokesperson mentioned.
The notification of Article 50 will take the type of a letter to Tusk, seemingly outlining Britain’s key goals, adopted by a press release by May to MPs within the House of Commons.
Tusk mentioned he would subject draft pointers for the negotiations inside 48 hours, and officers mentioned EU leaders are then seemingly to meet at a particular summit in early May to approve them.
“Everything is ready on this side,” Margaritis Schinas, the spokesperson for EC chief Jean-Claude Juncker, advised a briefing.
Britain’s path shall be set simply days after the EU celebrates the 60th anniversary of its founding Treaty of Rome on March 25.
Jeroen Dijsselbloem, president of the finance ministers of the 19-country euro foreign money space, mentioned he wished “realism” from May’s authorities.
“I hope for realism on the sequence of things, realism on the price that it is going to cost, realism on the complexity and thus the timespan that will be necessary, because those are the things that I have missed so far from the British side,” he mentioned.
London says the Brexit process is irreversible as soon as Article 50 is triggered, though specialists have mentioned there isn’t any authorized ban on member states altering their minds earlier than leaving the EU.
‘New positive partnership’
May’s preparations have been wrong-footed final week when Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, who opposes Brexit, introduced plans to maintain a brand new independence referendum in a bid to preserve its EU ties.
The prime minister has mentioned that “now is not the time,” and is anticipated to go to Scotland as a part of a pre-Brexit tour of Britain that started on Monday in Wales and also will absorb Northern Ireland.
May’s plan to withdraw Britain from Europe’s single market has additionally provoked concern in Northern Ireland, by elevating the prospect of the return of customs posts with EU member Ireland to the south.
Davis mentioned ministers would search a Brexit deal “that works for every nation and region of the UK and indeed for all of Europe –- a new, positive partnership between the UK and our friends and allies in the European Union.”
Scotland and Northern Ireland voted to keep within the EU within the June 23 referendum, whereas England and Wales voted to go away, leading to a UK-wide vote of 52 p.c for Brexit.