Countdown to Brexit: A timeline of events

  Prime Minister Theresa May will trigger Britain’s withdrawal from the European Union under Article 50 of the EU treaty on Wednesday. It should be out in two years. Here is a timeline, based on a mixture of public information and estimations by EU sources: THE TRIGGER Wednesday, March 29 – Just after noon (1100 GMT) […]

By: Reuters | Brussels | Published: March 28, 2017 6:01 pm


brexit, Brexit date, Britain Brexit date, Brexit timeline, Theresa May, UK Brexit, European Union, Brexit news, London News, UK news, Indian Express Anti Brexit campaigners carry flags and banners outside Britain’s parliament in London, Saturday March 25, 2017. Britain’s Prime Minister Theresa May is expected to start the process of leaving the European Union on Wednesday March 29. (AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth)

Prime Minister Theresa May will trigger Britain’s withdrawal from the European Union under Article 50 of the EU treaty on Wednesday. It should be out in two years. Here is a timeline, based on a mixture of public information and estimations by EU sources:


Wednesday, March 29 – Just after noon (1100 GMT) in London, EU officials believe, May should tell Parliament that her letter to European Council President Donald Tusk notifying him formally of Britain’s intention to leave has just been delivered.

EU officials expect a signed letter of several pages to be hand delivered from Britain’s EU embassy across the street. They think it will offer a positive tone on talks and recap 12 key points which May set out as her goals in a speech on Jan. 17.


Friday, March 31 – Within 48 hours after reading the letter, Tusk will send the 27 other states draft negotiating guidelines. He will outline his views in Malta, where from Wednesday he will be attending a congress of centre-right leaders. Brussels envoys of the 27 – Coreper – meet in Brussels to discuss Tusk’s draft.

April 11 – Government EU advisers — sherpas — from the 27 are expected to meet in Brussels to discuss guidelines. They are expected to meet again on April 24 for further revisions.

April 27 – EU affairs ministers of the 27 – General Affairs Council or GAC – meet in Luxembourg to prepare EU27 summit.

Saturday, April 29 – EU27 leaders meet in Brussels to agree guidelines and mandate Michel Barnier as chief negotiator.

Tuesday, May 2 – After May Day holiday, Barnier likely to go back to Council with his recommendations for how negotiations should be structured, seeking the governments’ approval.


May – The GAC will meet, again excluding Britain, to agree legal “negotiating directives” to bind Barnier. The GAC has a routine meeting scheduled on May 16 but could meet at any time.


Finally, after nearly a year of phoney war since the June 23 referendum vote to quit, British negotiators led by David Davis will sit down with Barnier’s EU team. This may well happen soon after the April 29 EU summit. Full negotiations must wait until EU governments sign off on the directives but both can save time by fixing procedural arrangements — who will meet whom where, speaking what language, and so on — once Barnier has a mandate.

Once the 27 governments have signed off on the directives, negotiating teams will start talks, each tackling certain areas.


December 2017 – Brussels wants a basic deal on a Withdrawal Treaty by year’s end. Key issues: the exit bill for Britain’s outstanding commitments; treatment of British and EU expats; dealing with outstanding EU legal cases; new border rules.


2018 – May wants to negotiate a comprehensive free trade deal. Few see two years as enough time to agree one and Brussels wants to hold off starting talks until after a divorce deal. But London and some EU states may push for parallel trade talks. Most diplomats expect some synthesis of the two approaches.

October 2018 – Barnier’s target to finalise the Withdrawal Treaty, to give time for ratification by the European Parliament and a majority in the European Council by March 2019.

Autumn 2018 to Spring 2019 – Just to make it complicated, the Scottish government wants an independence vote once a Brexit deal is clear. But, May has so far rejected the call for a new Scottish referendum until after Britain leaves the EU.


March 29, 2019 – Britain leaves. At any rate, it should do so exactly two years after May sends the Article 50 letter. As it happens, this Friday is the last business day of the quarter.

The date could be fine-tuned. Britain could leave earlier if it gets a deal, and the two-year deadline can be extended if all agree. But Brussels wants Britain out before EU elections in May 2019. Despite mutual threats of no deal, few want such chaos.


May and EU leaders say transitional arrangements may well be needed, to give more time to agree a future trade deal and give people and businesses time to adjust to the divorce. Many see another two to five years after Brexit for a final settlement. If Scotland votes for independence, expect more years to negotiate its split from London and possible re-entry to the EU.

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  1. S
    Serguei SeminePhD
    Mar 29, 2017 at 2:51 am
    Serguei Semine,;br/gt;Breakdown of European Unionlt;br/gt;The idea of the European Union (Europe – 92) project (similar to “North-American Union”) is dependent on continuation of the existing Global Economic Order. It was umed that the favourable economic conditions for these countries not only will continue but will also improve. The economic union would strengthen Europe’s position in the global market allowing for successful compeion against the US economy;br/gt;The breakdown of EU was predetermined. The US was smarter and more clear-sighted, they did not go ahead with the “North American Union”, which should have also included Canada and Mexico. Even though the necessary plans were developed, including introduction of common currency – “Amero”. Global economic crisis was starting up. The first to drop out of global economic system were the economically weaker USSR and its socialist satellite states. The end of the socialist block had extended the perceived success (prosperity) of the US and European economies through access to the markets for ex-USSR and its allies in Asia and Africa. This gave EU members an illusion of even bright economic future fuelled by cheap labour and material resources from the collapsing socialist countries. This illusion has led to expansion of EU to critical;br/gt;The crisis of 2008 has brought about sobering reality. New members had joined the EU while economic activity had declined. The only solution is to rearrange the global resources and control them. This is why England, cleaver homeland of thinkers such as Adam Smith and David Ricardo, was the first to get out of the European Union (Brexit). The EU is starting to look a lot like Ponzi scheme, the first to join and to get out are the lucky ones at the expense of the others. The main proponent of the Union is Germany since it needs access to a lot of resources to reorganize and modernize the economy of the less developed eastern part. The European Union today is a German domain, its main market where German industry has practically eliminated compeion from other EU members by ping favourable legislation in EU parliament and;br/gt;Today’s economic interests of different industrial nations will become more differentiated and polarized. This process has already begun and can be seen for example in Western Europe. Brexit confirms it. At the same time, the role of state control and public sector in the economy will increase. These will cover administration of economic controls, typical for crisis periods, stabilization of the economy (employment, etc), economic security (preserving access to resources for the economy is most important), and economic;br/gt;More at:lt;br/gt;