It has been two years since the British people voted for the separation of the United Kingdom with the European Union by referendum. The British wanted to regain control of their border and become sovereign of their country, more than 70% of voters went to the polls, and 51.9% of them tipped the scales in favour of Brexit. On March 29, 2017, the machine was launched by Prime Minister Theresa May, who invoked Article 50 of the Treaty of Lisbon. What is happening since and where are we from the European divorce of the century?
WHAT HAVE WE ACHIEVED?
As we write this article, it is in less than a year that, on Friday, March 29, 2019, at 11pm exactly, it is expected that the United Kingdom will separate from the European Union. So, where are we in the separation process? First, the United Kingdom and the European Union have agreed to identify what are the three primary interests of each party in the divorce: How much does the United Kingdom owe to the EU, what will happen to the North-Irish border and what will happen to British citizens living abroad in the EU and to European citizens living in the UK?
WHAT ARE WE FOCUSING ON TODAY?
Discussions are now focused on future EU – UK relations, and the negotiating parties have reached an agreement giving Great Britain a 21 – month transition period to facilitate post – Brexit relations. This transition period will run from March 29, 2019, to December 31, 2020, and aims to enable businesses and citizens to prepare for the new rules established by a post-Brexit Europe. This period is also intended to determine the nature of the relations between the European Union and the United Kingdom. The free movement of people and goods will be maintained throughout the transition period during which the UK can negotiate new trade agreements that will only come into effect in January 2021, at the end of the transitional period.
IMPORTANT DATES TO COME:
- ●12 June 2018: EU Withdrawal Bill votes in the House of Commons. It was passed on June 20th, 2018, with 319 votes to 303. Mrs May said: “Today’s votes show people in the UK, and to the EU, that the elected representatives in this country are getting on with the job and delivering on the will of the British people.”
- ●28 June 2018: EU summit may include the Northern Ireland border issue
in the discussions.
- ●18 October 2018: European Council holding key importance where both sides in the negotiation will try to find and agreement and set the basis of future relations for the UK and the EU to be able to work on a satisfactory agreement for both parties.
- ●13 December 2018: Last European summit of the year hold in case the October talks did not lead to a viable solution to carry on the separation of both parties involved.
- ●29 March 2019: Whether a deal has been reached or not, the process of leaving the European Union is set on this date that mark the beginning of the 21-month transition period. Note that the article 50 of the Lisbon treaty allows the UK to request that the date be pushed back.
- ●31 December 2018: If all the negotiation goes smooth and that there is no spectacular turn of events in British policies, December 31th will be the last date the United Kingdom will officially be part of the EU
REMAIN IN THE EU, SOFT BREXIT OR HARD BREXIT – WHAT WILL IT BE?
It is impossible to know the outcome of the negotiations, as they are currently being in progress as we write these lines. One thing is almost certain though, the Brexit will indeed take place, the government in place and the majority of the opposition agreeing on it. Unless an improbable 180 degrees turn in British policy, the United Kingdom will leave the European Union on January 1, 2021. The state of relations between the European organisation and Britain will depend on the outcome of current and future negotiations on which whether the Brexit will be a soft or a hard one, depends.
Feel free to visit theguardian.com/politics/eu-referendum for live coverage of the event