British Prime Minister Theresa May has started the two-year process of withdrawing the United Kingdom from the European Union.

May handed a letter to EU Council President Donald Tusk this Wednesday, triggering Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty. In the message, May also expresses the UK’s wish to retire from the European Atomic Energy Community. The European Parliament said that security cooperation was not on the table, as the upcoming negotiations between the EU and the UK appear to be tough.

British Prime Minister Theresa May, the longest-serving Home Secretary in 100 years. Image Credit: PA/Independent UK

Prime Minister May stated that if a trade deal isn’t reached within the two-year limit, it could result in weakening cooperation in the fight against terrorism and crime. Home Secretary Amber Rudd said that the British government could back out from sharing intelligence with the Europol if an agreement isn’t accomplished.

Article 50 executes Brexit start

Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty gives any EU member the right to quit from the community, and it outlines the procedure for doing so. The clause gives the country two years to negotiate an exit deal. Once the negotiation is in motion, it cannot be stopped unless there’s unanimous consent among all member states.

May addressed the negotiations that need to take place between the UK and the EU, saying that it is necessary to agree on those terms for the future partnership.

“If, however, we leave the European Union without an agreement the default position is that we would have to trade on World Trade Organisation terms,” she wrote in the letter. “In security terms, a failure to reach agreement would mean our cooperation in the fight against crime and terrorism would be weakened. In this kind of scenario, both the United Kingdom and the European Union would, of course, cope with the change, but it is not the outcome that either side should seek. We must, therefore work hard to avoid that outcome.”

Guy Verhifstadt, European Parliament’s chief Brexit negotiator, stated that they would not accept any attempt to bargain between security and trade. He said that the security of their citizens is far too important to start a trade of one for the other.

In an interview with the BBC, the Prime Minister said that they would like to maintain security within Europe in the degree of cooperation that they currently have. The British government insists that those comments were not a threat to the EU, but it is a simple fact that security arrangements would lapse if the UK leaves the EU without a deal.

If the majority of EU nations doesn’t stop the process, the United Kingdom will leave the European Union on March 29, 2019.

European Union’s response to May

Donald Tusk gave a press conference in Brussels where he said that it was not a happy day for the EU. While holding the Prime Minister’s letter, he recognized that the community already missed the British country. He also stated that arrangements for the UK’s withdrawal will begin at once and that they will attempt to minimize Brexit’s costs for EU citizens, business, and member countries.

The Prime Minister addressed the House of Commons to say that UK’s withdrawal from the EU is the wish of the British people and that there is no turning back. She stretched to the point that the UK wants to remain best friend and neighbor to the European Union countries.

The activation of Article 50 has received mixed reviews from European nations. German Chancellor Angela Merkel stated that there couldn’t be a talk about the future relationship before defining the terms of the UK’s withdrawal from the EU.

“The negotiations must first clarify how we will disentangle our interlinked relationship,” said Chancellor Merkel in Berlin. “And only when this question is dealt with, can we, hopefully soon after, begin talking about our future relationship.”

One of the highlights of the upcoming negotiations is the debt that the UK must pay the EU by the time they leave. Mrs. May said they would reach a fair settlement, and the EU said it wants £50 billion.

European Parliament. Image Credit: Debating Europe

Opposition leaders of the UK have also raised their concern about Brexit. Liberal Democrat leader Tim Farrow said that the Prime Minister is twisting the will of the British people and has no idea of where the country will end up. He believes that it would still be possible for the United Kingdom to remain in the European Union. Farrow marked as a tragedy the Labour party’s help to the Conservatives to cause that damage to the country.

Source: BBC