The European Union (EU) will take just 48 hours to issue its plans for Brexit negotiations after the UK formally triggers Article 50, European Council President Donald Tusk has said.
British Prime Minister Theresa May has pledged to begin the formal Brexit process by the end of this month, once the bill allowing her to do so has cleared parliament.
Mr. Tusk said the European Council would issue its draft plans for Brexit talks soon after Mrs. May does so.
Speaking on Wednesday, the European Council president said: “When the UK notifies, it is our goal to react with the draft negotiation guidelines for the 27 Member States to consider.
“For this I think we need more or less 48 hours. Leaders will then meet, probably in April, to finalise these. But as for now we are still waiting for the UK to trigger.”
Once Article 50 is triggered, the UK and the remainder of the EU will have two years to conclude negotiations before Britain’s membership finally ends. In that time, they must negotiate the terms of departure and UK’s future relationship with the EU, as well as get that deal approved by their respective parliaments.
Despite Mr. Tusk’s comments, however, formal negotiations may not begin for another two months as the European Commission will have to set out more detailed plans once they know what the Council has said.
Donald Tusk is presently seeking a second term as European Council president but is being challenged by his native Poland.
Jaroslaw Kaczynski, head of the ruling Law and Justice Party (PiS), said it was “not in Poland’s interest” for Mr. Tusk to continue in the post, and the government instead nominated MEP Jacek Saryusz-Wolski as their alternative.
Mr. Saryusz-Wolski was promptly expelled from his Civic Platform party and the European People’s Party grouping in the European Parliament.