(AFP) – European Commission Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier said Tuesday that a deal on Britain’s exit from the EU must be in place by October 2018.
“Time will be short. It is clear that the period of actual negotiations will be shorter than two years,” Barnier said in his first press conference since taking up the post.
He said that if Britain triggers the two-year divorce process as expected in March 2017 then an agreement would be needed by October of the following year in order to get through the European Parliament in time for March 2019.
Barnier, who has visited 18 EU countries and aims to hold talks in all 27 apart from Britain by the end of January, said the union was prepared for British Prime Minister Theresa May to send the so-called Article 50 divorce notification.
“The European Union is ready to receive the notification,” Barnier said.
“Keep calm and negotiate.”
He added: “It’s up to the British to say what relations they want and up to the 27 to define their future relations with Britain.”
Britain voted to leave the EU in a shock referendum result in June, but May is yet to set out London’s demands in detail.