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3/29/17

Brexit : Britain between a rock and a hard place: First EU response to article 50 takes tough line on transitional deal - by Daniel Boffey

"Brexit and the Mouse that roare": sorry to see you go Britain
Britain will not be given a free trade deal by the EU in the next two years, and a transition arrangement to cushion the UK’s exit after 2019 can last no longer than three years, a European parliament resolution has vowed, in the first official response by the EU institutions to the triggering of article 50 by Theresa May.

A leaked copy of the resolution, on which the EU’s chief Brexit negotiator, Michel Barnier, has been a close conspirator, lays bare the tough path ahead for Britain as the historic process of withdrawing from the trade bloc begins.

Across 11 pages of clauses, May is warned that the EU will stridently protect its political, financial and social interests, and that the position for the UK even during the transition period will not be as positive as it is today.

A withdrawal agreement, covering financial liabilities, citizens’ rights and the border in Ireland, will need to be accepted by a qualified majority of 72% of the EU’s remaining 27 member states, representing 65% of the population. The agreement would then need to be approved by the European parliament, voting by a simple majority.

Barnier has said that any free trade deal, to be struck after the UK leaves, would be a “mixed agreement” requiring ratification by the national parliaments of the 27 states, plus consent by the European parliament.

Sir Tim Barrow, the UK’s permanent representative to the EU, delivered a letter to the European council president, Donald Tusk, at 12.30pm notifying the EU of Britain’s intention to leave, as May stood up in the House of Commons to make a statement to MPs.

Addressing a press conference half an hour later, Tusk said: “There is no need to pretend that this is a happy day, neither in Brussels or in London. After all most Europeans, including almost half the British voters, wish that we would stay together not drift apart.”

Tusk said that Brexit would bind the remaining 27 member states together, and that the council and the European commission had a strong mandate to protect the EU’s interests. But he added: “As for me I will not pretend I am happy…”

One positive development following Brexit. It brought the other 27 member states  of the EU with a population of close to half a billion people closer together with no one of its present leaders ready to call a referendum or announce they would be leaving the EU 

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