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Article 50: What happens next?

Article 50: What happens next?

The trigger of Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty may put the UK's exit from the European Union in motion. But, the road ahead is still foggy.

Despite having attained an almost mythical quality from its sudden ubiquity in newspaper headlines, Article 50 consists of a mere "262 words that were scrawled at the kitchen table of John Kerr, a veteran UK diplomat", says the Financial Times. It offers no other guidance.

The Prime Minister says negotiations will take two years, taking us until the end of March 2019.

Here’s what we can expect:

What happens between now and March 2019?

April 2017: The EU-27 nations meet to agree on Brexit guidelines, outlining the broad strokes of their response to Britain's decision to withdraw from the EU.

May-June 2017: Member states will get together behind the scenes to draw up more detailed negotiating instructions to be passed on to the European Commission, which will act as the union's chief negotiator.
At the same time, lawyers in Whitehall will be working flat-out on the great repeal bill for the Queen's Speech in May. This will smooth the legal transition of Brexit and incorporate most existing EU legislation into domestic law, where they can be amended or repealed at a more convenient time.

Christmas 2017: By now, UK and EU negotiators should have come to an agreement on the broader principles of Brexit, including the status of EU nationals living in the UK, and outstanding payments to be made. Detailed discussions of the UK's future relationship with the bloc can now begin.
However, says the New Statesman, these talks are still likely to focus on "a transitional arrangement". "The real deal that will shape Britain's future outside the EU is the trade deal," it says. "And there's no deadline on that."

October 2018: Brexit could be decided by now. Michel Barnier, the EU Commission's lead negotiator, said last year that "it is clear that the period of actual negotiations will be shorter than two years".
In order for the UK and EU parliaments to ratify a final agreement by March 2019, a deal must be on the table by October 2018, he added.
No one can predict how negotiations will develop over the next 18 months, but leading Leave campaigner Daniel Hannan writes in the Daily Telegraph that despite the sabre-rattling in London and Brussels, "it is in the interests of both sides to reach a deal".

March 2019: If all EU member states and the UK have formally agreed the terms, Brexit can be completed on schedule in March 2019.

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