It's no surprise the government has agreed to publish an exit planby Alex Greer / December 7, 2016 / Leave a comment
Michel Barnier, the European Commission’s chief Brexit negotiator, made headlines yesterday at his first official press conference when he said: “Time is short…All in all, there will be less than 18 months to negotiate.” Despite the hype around this statement, in itself it is unlikely to have given Theresa May or Brexit watchers any more cause for sleepless nights than already exists.
The calculation of 18 months’ actual negotiating time should not be too controversial, not only because the EU itself will need time to establish its position on whatever the UK eventually proposes, but also because the time needed for the Council of Ministers, the European Parliament and the UK to approve the agreement will likely mean that around six months of the two-year period stipulated by Article 50 will realistically be unavailable for deal-making. However, his remarks do touch on a key question around the sequencing that will determine the ultimate nature of the UK and EU’s relationship after Brexit.
Barnier here is referring simply to the “divorce” element of Brexit, the Article 50 negotiation in which a member state must agree with the EU “the arrangements for its withdrawal, taking account of the framework for its future relationship with the Union.” The Article 50 negotiation will cover pending issues, such as UK contributions to the EU budget and the position of British officials working for the EU institutions. He also suggested an openness on the EU’s part to transitional arrangements. Such an arrangement would be designed as an interim step on the way to a final UK-EU relationship and would cover complex trade matters like regulatory cooperation on services.