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European-British Divorce…What to expect? | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Britain’s Prime Minister Cameron addresses a news conference
after the EU Summit in Brussels, Belgium, June 28, 2016. Photo/REUTERS

Britain has put an end to the conflict between those who call for maintaining the EU membership and others who call for separation. Former British Prime Minister David Cameron left his post, to be succeeded by Theresa May. The new Prime minister didn’t waste her time and made significant adjustments to mark her presence in the government.

Britain is now witnessing the countdown prior negotiations on mechanism of Brexit and its details. This process depends on London’s submission of an official separation request according to the Article 50 of Lisbon’s Treaty.

The scene concerning the European-British negotiations is still foggy. Following the referendum, Cameron said that negotiations will be the mission of the new government in the coming autumn. Yet, the new Prime Minister previously stated that talks may kick off with the beginning of 2017, while the European Commission refused to comment on this statement and stressed on the announcement made in the last summit in Brussels, which called London to submit the official request and to set a date for talks as soon as possible.

Article 50

What is article 50 in the European Union Treaty? It is an applicable article since 2009 that allows countries to alert about their intention to leave the Union, but it has not been used before. Following the notification, negotiations should take place between the country aiming to leave and the other members.

However, if they failed, the membership of the concerned country will be automatically suspended in two years following the notification. This article is just a basic frame for exit, date setting, and few other matters, but it doesn’t include issues like people’s displacement and trade, which may require years to reach an agreement regarding them.

Hence, the first step should be a British request for the EU to announce separation intention according to article 50. Then, a meeting that gathers the 27 member-states of the EU will be held to start negotiations, and should end up by concluding a draft on the exit, which requires the approval of at least 20 members. During negotiations, Britain will request an agreement concerning the displacement of Union’s citizens from its territories and the British citizens from the other countries.

Banks’ statuses in London and health agreements, will also witness changes according to POLITICO website. This draft will not only represent a base for Brexit, but will also pave the road for future relations between UK and the European entity.

Negotiations and Interests

British negotiators, led by the new Minister David Davis, who was appointed by Theresa May to reach the awaited agreement, will seek to secure best privileges for his country, while the EU negotiators will try to keep on some economic privileges which will ensure the maintenance of its banks and companies in the United Kingdom.

In case parties announced the extension of negotiations again, the EU member-states will decide to suspend the Union-related agreements in Britain and will complete all the Brexit procedures. Following the completion of the final agreement, the European Union will announce the suspension of the UK’s membership and the British House of Commons will suspend the European Group Law of 1972.
European contrast

The European capitals have recently witnessed contrast in their positions concerning enforcing UK to submit a swift official request. Following the results of the British referendum, German Chancellor Angela Merkel saw that the EU should not put Britain under pressure concerning its Brexit, and said that preventing other countries from exiting the Union should not be a priority during these talks. Merkel opposed a quick Brexit, in response to many European foreign ministers including the German minister who urged Britain to terminate its separation.

Jean-Claude Juncker, president of the European Commission urged the UK to submit an official exit request, but also pointed that negotiations may require two years to reach an agreement between the two parties.

Stage of Uncertainty

The last European summit hosted by Brussels pointed that this exit must be swiftly completed to avoid the stage of uncertainties, according to Donald Tusk, president of the European Council. It is worth mentioning, that the new British Prime Minister Theresa May, who will lead her country in negotiations, supported her predecessor and opposed the Brexit choice.

May…the decisive

Theresa May had been known with its decisiveness since she was appointed as minister of interior in 2010. When the conservative former minister Kenneth Clarke said that May is “really hard”, May saw that Jean-Claude Juncker will be the first to notice her harshness, pointing to the upcoming Brexit-related negotiations.

On another hand, during an interview with the head on the European Parliament, Martin Schulz, he said that the European leaders’ message to Cameron’s cabinet and the British people was clear and that the turmoil in financial markets, investments and currency was the clearest response on the referendum and urges a quick Brexit.

Filip Dewinter, leader of the Belgian Right-wing said that he supports the referendums’ results in Britain and that a similar one should be organized in his country, particularly following the refugees’ flow over the few past years.