UK to have 18 months to strike Brexit deal
The UK will have less than 18 months to finalise its exit from the European Union once talks begin and won’t be allowed to pick and choose what it likes, said the EU’s chief Brexit negotiator on Tuesday.
Michel Barnier said that formal procedures such as parliamentary approvals across Europe will cut into the two-year period that Britain was expecting to have to negotiate the terms of its exit.
In his first press conference since taking the post, Barnier said: “Time will be short. It is clear that the period of actual negotiations will be shorter than two years.”
This comes after Theresa May voiced her intention to invoke Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty by March next year. A step that will officially start the 2-year countdown for the EU-UK divorce.
Still, Barnier warned that the effective negotiating time will be less, as an agreement will have to have been reached by October 2018, so as to ensure it is in place and enforced by March 2019 – exactly two years from the triggering of Article 50.
“The European Union is ready to receive the (article 50) notification,” Barnier said. “Keep calm and negotiate.”
However, May might find it difficult to trigger article 50, after a court last month decided that Parliament had to give its backing to such a move. The government is contesting the ruling in the Supreme Court, with critics warning of the serious societal instability if the ruling goes against the people’s vote to leave the EU.
Should it confirm that Parliament is to be involved in the process, May’s plans to begin the exit discussions could be delayed indefinitely.
Barnier, who spoke in English and French, said that Britain cannot “cherry pick” policies from the EU, asserting that the single market and its four freedoms, namely freedom of movement, are “indivisible”.
Associate Wealth Manager
deVere Spain (Marbella)