Nine months after British voters decided that the UK should leave the European Union, Britain’s permanent representative to the EU Tim Barrow delivered a letter in notice of the UK’s intention to leave the Union.
Barrow arrived at the EU Council on Wednesday morning, bearing Prime Minister Theresa May’s Brexit notification.
Thus, the UK has officially triggered the article 50 of the Treaty of Lisbon, which enables EU member states to start a procedure of withdrawal from the Union.
The article 50 of the Treaty of Lisbon specifies that:
2. A Member State which decides to withdraw shall notify the European Council of its intention. In the light of the guidelines provided by the European Council, the Union shall negotiate and conclude an agreement with that State, setting out the arrangements for its withdrawal, taking account of the framework for its future relationship with the Union. That agreement shall be negotiated in accordance with Article 218(3) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union. It shall be concluded on behalf of the Union by the Council, acting by a qualified majority, after obtaining the consent of the European Parliament.
The EU Council President Donald Tusk received the envelope at 1:25 p.m. Shorty after, he Tweeted: “After nine months, the UK has delivered #Brexit.”
Barrow’s encounter with Tusk lasted just a few minutes, but Brexit negotiations between the UK and the EU are expected to take more than two years. The British government hopes that negotiations will enable the UK to keep some of its ties with the EU, including free trade.
However, at this point, it remains unclear how negotiations will unfold, as London has not yet outlined its strategy for the talks with the EU.
Britain leaving the European Union will mark a significant moment for the bloc, as no other member country has ever triggered the Article 50.
Tusk remarked that it was “not a happy day” for most Europeans, but later summed up the day with: “We already miss you. Thank you and goodbye.”
Photograph: REUTERS/Yves Herman