How long until the finish line? Nine months after Britain’s historic vote to leave the EU, the starting pistol was finally been fired on Brexit. At 12:30 GMT on 29 March 2017, a letter signed by the British Prime Minister, Theresa May, will be delivered by hand to Donald Tusk, the President of the European Council. The clock will officially start counting down on the two-year negotiating period mandated in Article 50 of the European treaties (though this time limit can be extended indefinitely if all parties unanimously agree).

Two years is not much time to negotiate divorce proceedings and a new Free Trade Agreement between the EU and the UK. Can everything really be wrapped up by March 2019? We had a comment sent in by Mitsos, who was worried that Brexit negotiations will drag on and on, and might not be finished in two years. Is he right?

To get a reaction, we spoke to pro-Brexit MEP Roger Helmer from the UK Independence Party (UKIP). What would he say to Mitsos?

helmer-speaksI think two years is pretty realistic. The Australia-America Free Trade Agreement was concluded in less than a year. So, just because the European Union tends to be very bad and very slow at trade agreements, it doesn’t mean it has to be. Also, because Britain has been in the European for 44 years, many of our regulations and our practices are really quite closely-aligned, and that should make it easy.

There’s also an enormous commercial incentive for both Britain and the rest of the EU to get an agreement because we do an enormous amount of cross-channel trade and, in fact, Britain buys far more from Europe than Europe buys from Britain. So, if you like, the incentive is even bigger for Brussels and for Europe to get a free trade deal than it is for the UK. I think it can be done, I think it should be done, and I hope it will be done.

For another perspective, we also spoke to Professor Iain Begg, Professorial Research Fellow at the European Institute of the London School of Economics and Political Science. What would he say?

iain-beggWell, the trouble with the expression ‘Brexit negotiations’ is that they cover not just the divorce from the EU, which is what Article 50 is about, but also the subsequent relationship, which has a huge number of different layers to it. It’s possible to agree much of the divorce element of this within two years, although I’m sure there will be a lot of things not fully resolved at the end of the two-year period. But defining a future relationship is almost certain to take far longer, given all the experience we’ve seen of how long it takes to negotiate trade deals; seven years for Canada, and even then being derailed by a regional parliament in Wallonia. Therefore, it’s inconceivable that the future relationship will be sorted in the two-year period of the Brexit negotiations. It will leave a lot lingering with elements still to be filled in for as many as ten years beyond the Brexit date.

How long will the Brexit negotiations take? Can they be completed by the two-year deadline set out in Article 50? Or will they drag on for a decade? Let us know your thoughts and comments in the form below and we’ll take them to policymakers and experts for their reactions!

IMAGE CREDITS: CC / Flickr – sgoldswo


141 comments Post a commentcomment

What do YOU think?

  1. avatar
    Karolina

    Well, apparently, if the UK does not pay the money it has committed to paying into the EU budget prior to Brexit notification, the negotiations will last a very short time.

    • avatar
      Diaconu George Razvan

      not really , we will forever negotiate , it’s 2 years till all the signed papers as a EU member will cease to be valid.

    • avatar
      Ivan Burrows

      Diaconu George Razvan

      That’s what I said, 2 years & we are out.

    • avatar
      David Alan Roden

      Can be extended by unanimity from both sides – very very unlikely

  2. avatar
    Paul X

    Based on the EU’s track record of carrying out trade negotiations, I imagine anything up to ten years,

    http://trade.ec.europa.eu/doclib/docs/2006/december/tradoc_118238.pdf

    …….but there’s nothing the UK can do to about the EU’s negotiating incompetence and we should put equal effort into RoW negotiations which can be achieved much quicker as per the Australia-America example quoted above

    • avatar
      Giuseppe Morello

      In your place… I should NOT be so happy! But, that’s your problem… :)

    • avatar
      Marco Boiocchi

      I Will! Dont be afraid. …
      I was really happy before UE, like The majority of The People. ..
      DESTROY UE!
      SAVE THE EUROPE…..

    • avatar
      Martin Green

      Giuseppe Morello we’ll be absolutely fine

    • avatar
      Jeffrey ten Velde

      Marco Boiocchi Yeah world war 1 and 2 where so much fun and people where so happy in those times.

    • avatar
      Paul X

      ..and we have NATO and the nuclear deterrent to thank for there being no world war 3

  3. avatar
    Paul X

    One of Theresa May’s principles for negotiations is a bit ambitious

    “We should always put our citizens first”

    This is a totally alien concept to the EU for whom citizens are just providers of the funds to further their totalitarian dreams

    • avatar
      Edgar Joycey

      THIS COMMENT HAS BEEN REMOVED BY MODERATORS FOR BREACHING OUR CODE OF CONDUCT. REPLIES MAY ALSO BE REMOVED.

    • avatar
      Paul X

      I think you mean Anglo-Saxons?…the true Saxons will still be grinding the organ watching the 26 monkeys do the dance

    • avatar
      Martin Green

      Lol are you leaving the eu then?

    • avatar
      Mìchèal de Staic

      oh dear someone isn’t aware where the English came from and isn’t aware why in Scottish and Irish the term Saxon is used.

    • avatar
      Paul X

      Saxons were not indigenous to Britain, they were invaders from Germany

      Using your logic you may as well have said “bye bye to the bloody Romans” because they had invaded Britain long before the Saxons arrived and had just as much influence on “where the English came from”

    • avatar
      David Alan Roden

      You do realise that Saxons are German don’t you?

  4. avatar
    Mario Almeida

    Real sad day for democracy…and next episode will be no more United kindgdom. Godbye Uk, Hello and welcome Scotland!

    • avatar
      Martin Green

      Hello Scotland lol eu don’t want them
      Anyway enjoy eu prison

    • avatar
      Tarquin Farquhar

      @Mario Almeida
      Clearly, you do not understand the concept of democracy!

    • avatar
      Karolina

      Perhaps you don’t, Tarquin…

    • avatar
      Tarquin Farquhar

      @Karolina
      <>
      Oh, YES I do!

  5. avatar
    Ariste Arvanitides

    Regardless what the UK does, it will likely become England, Scotland, Ireland each independent. The NWO does not seem to want stong political nore economic blocks… except when they control it. That means, that the EU will likely drop more members because everyone is fed up with German, NAZI economic tactics.

    • avatar
      Martin Green

      LMAO we don’t care haha
      Oh and don’t forget to pay the extra money we used to pay
      GOOD BYE TO ALL IN THE EU ( WELL UNTIL THE NEXT WAR YOU LOT CANT WIN )

    • avatar
      Tim Nick Knight

      Martin Green Typical Brit playing the short game First the real military is America, The UK is fairly worthless, and unless the UK leaves NATO it means nothing. Second now with the albatross that was the UK gone, we can build a real military. Your contribution will be the only thing that is missed, but only temporarily. Things are changing, and shortly many of the new countries will be passing the UK. Sorry to tell you.

    • avatar
      David Alan Roden

      Sorry to burst you spit bubble but the 65 million people of the UK have a military that represents 25% of eu military forces – mainly because most member states don’t pay their commitments to NATO of 2% GDP – Only the US, UK, Greece, Estonia and Poland out of the 28 NATO nations pay the required % of GDP.

  6. avatar
    catherine benning

    How long will the Brexit negotiations take?

    You can hear all you want to know in this speech.

    I feel totally relieved we as a nation have decided to once again rule ‘ourselves.’ May did good today.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=53Tu-BfsNFU

    • avatar
      Karolina

      Just make sure Scotland doesn’t rule itself.

  7. avatar
    David Heal

    It is two years to come up with a plan. The details will take, about 20 years. But in the meantime things will have moved on, and will have to be worked out, so go and find the Red Queen, she’s needed.

  8. avatar
    Alf Bme

    That depends on the envisioned results: if Britain coughs up 50 billion and wants nothing back: about 2 hours including dinner. If Britain does not and expects that nothing changes: 2 years for the divorce proceedings and about 10 years for the trade agreement.

    • avatar
      Tarquin Farquhar

      @Alf Bme
      It won’t be €50B – you EU types are prone to lying hyperbole when it comes to negotiations – expect much less spread over several years.

      As regards the trade agreement – the longer the EU takes to negotiate a trade deal with the UK, the less the deal will be worth as the UK will in the interim sign trade deals with countries like Australia and NZ which will effectively slash food and drink imports from the EU to the UK albeit ‘backgrounded’ by a certain amount of uncertainty for both parties.

      The UK wins either way when it comes to a trade deal with the EU. If it takes a long time, the EU’s trade with the UK will massively decline as other more competitive nations wrench trade sectors from the EU; whilst if the trade deal takes a few short years then there is less disruption for both parties.

  9. avatar
    Akis Muto

    Funny situation. We lost one of the military and economic pillars of the EU. But also we lost the most eager country to leave anyway .
    It seems that tje EU should be (of well played) more stable now

  10. avatar
    Jon Bromfield

    Out means out.. Means higher inflation,a weak pound,A divided country,A lower standard of living..Bring it on.

    • avatar
      Paul X

      …………. can you tell me this Saturday’s National Lottery numbers as well?

  11. avatar
    Manuel Da Costa Teixeira

    A Europa há muito que deixou de ser mercado comum para querer ser império do grande capital europeu nomeadamente da alta finança e banca; os povos pouco ou nada ganham com este império, mas têm muito a perder.

    • avatar
      Alf Bme

      Os pobres têm muito mais a perder com os governos que não atingem Govier grande respeito no mundo. Nenhum Estado europeu é capaz de fazer isso sozinho

  12. avatar
    Fátima Pio

    2 years should be enough for de divorce. A good negociation can be done for both parts starting with citizens rights. About trading uk should be just like another partner. We all know the consequences of a bad deal. About security ue should have their own

  13. avatar
    Saul Crucero

    EU is composed of many nations and each one has it’s interest to defend. This will prolong the agreement to be concluded.

    • avatar
      Tarquin Farquhar

      @Saul Crucero
      Agreed, this is the weakness of a political EU union, indeed for ‘the narcissism of small differences’ read ‘the tyranny of small differences’.

      When city-states like Luxembourg or Malta can halt the will of over 500milion people then without significant change (less democracy and or more unelected and unaccountable ‘beurocracy’) the EU will become more and more unstable.

      When you add the soon to be realised ‘demographic turnover’ whereby the Northern EU states (the net payers in the main) will be democratically diminished in contrast to the more corrupt and poorer Latin EU states then there will be conflict.

  14. avatar
    Dimitris Stamiris

    English knew all those years that all eu project is for Germans to have all Europe , that’s why they dint except the eurozone (euro) .
    this time they realize that all eu will fail so they protect England

    This is what you do wen you want to protect your country …

  15. avatar
    Gianfranco Gattini

    EU must realize that they have not the atomic H bomb so or they ask North Korea to give the bomb to them or they must send away mister Jclaude Juncker Moselwein and listen what Britain have to tell to EU eh eh

    • avatar
      european

      France has enough nuclear bombs, than you very much.

  16. avatar
    Nando Aidos

    Who cares? This is an irrelevant question!
    It should take as long as it needs to take.
    A relevant question would be – What should be done to minimize pain for the citizens on both sides?

  17. avatar
    nando

    Who cares? This is an irrelevant question!
    It should take as long as it needs to take.
    A relevant question would be – What should be done to minimize pain for the citizens on both sides?

  18. avatar
    Maia Alexandrova

    As Britain doesn’t want free movement of people, the free trade deal part could take surprisingly short. The outcome – no deal, UK waves “good-bye” and throws itself off the cliff into the FTA rules. I don’t believe that EU will agree to any such deal with the UK which excludes free movement of people. I know Theresa May will resort to blackmail but for me this is a lost cause – she will not succeed.

    • avatar
      Paul X

      Free trade only being granted with free movement is an invention of the EU (based on a distorted version of a principle from the treaty of Rome)
      The EU has free trade arrangements (without free movement) with countries like S Korea and Vietnam so why can’t the UK have the similar access?
      This insistence on not having one without the other is clearly discrimination against the UK for daring to leave and it is quite clear which party is being blackmailed by which

    • avatar
      Maia Alexandrova

      It depends on what is in the interest of all EU countries. In the case of Canada, for example, visa removal for all EU citizens was required before the free trade agreement was signed. I suspect it will be the same with UK.

      There are also separate visa reciprocity agreements that EU has with many countries, without free trade included. This means free movement of people is already in place, although UK and Ireland are currently exempt from implementing those rules. As far as I know, all countries that have signed FTA with EU, except Tunisia and Turkey, offer visa-free travel to all EU citizens. Vietnam’s agreement is not ratified yet.

      When free trade agreements are negotiated, each country is considered differently, depending on what it can offer and what EU needs. Ultimately, the common interest of 27 countries is what counts more than the specific interests of just one country and the principle of reciprocity is always followed. UK will not be allowed to take more than it wants to give.

    • avatar
      Paul X

      I totally agree with all you say Maia, particularly regarding each trade deal being individual depending upon what the country can offer and what are the needs of the EU
      If UK was a new country approaching the EU for the first time for a trade deal, and based on what it can offer the EU in the way of a market, it would no doubt be given an exceptional deal, probably better than any others…Unfortunately the UK is leaving and as such no matter that economically it must be logical for the UK to get a good deal, the politics of the EU and it’s desperation in trying to maintain unity means logic goes out the window and any UK deal must be seen to be inferior

    • avatar
      Tarquin Farquhar

      @Maia Alexandrova
      Your EU ‘heaven’ is for me and the UK an EU ‘hell’.

      You are blinded by the handouts you receive from the EU and seem blissfully unaware of the degradation in democracy, accountability and legality that the EU is gradually foisting upon the ‘prison continent’.

      The UK may/might suffer in the medium term but the increasing domination of the EU by Germany is already causing unrest and will gain momentum as countries are cajoled, courted and coerced into the ‘German EU’ – the 4th Reich!

  19. avatar
    Paul X

    Though one point, visa free travel is just that and only that. It simply makes travel easier but it is in no way comparable, and does not give any of the rights that go along with the EU’s freedom of movement and right to reside policy

  20. avatar
    catherine benning

    The UK can take its time and only commit to any deal suitable to our interests. They also must only make deals that will be advantageous to us in the event the EU discontinues.

    We have already decided to absorb all EU law as it presently exists in our legislation here. And as each issue arises it will be altered to return us to full control of our regulation and laws the way it suits the British way of life.

    However, the EU collectively is terrified as they know they are on their last legs. Just as our rabid remainers left in our Parliament are terrified they too are only a breath away from facing total public rejection.

    We British were better off prior to joining the EU and have systematically lost so much control over our trade decisions, educational legislation and the crazed absorbing of politically correct infantile behaviour, we can only look forward to a massive rise in our stature and lifestyle standards once our vote serves its democratic purpose once again.

    German banking finance and their bit by bit changes to our lifestyle through the use of political austerity, so cleverly moved at a rate unexpected or comprehensible, has gone largely unnoticed, just as was intended by pre 1940’s rule. As once in their total control it has now come to an end. In five years there will be no EU to fear. It will have disintegrated. And they know it hence the threats of punishment to our economy. What they are not grasping is, the punishment to their economy by the blatant intransigence they have stood by regardless of the outcome.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i-UbT0g9A8c

    And how much money does Europe owe the UK?

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-ZpT8xYKREo

    Jeremy irons has it right.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DKBY-fcc9jU

  21. avatar
    Wolfgang Mizelli

    Think the unthinkable! negotiations lead to nonexit. I would be more concerned about future Madame la Présidente coming.

  22. avatar
    GonEprata Megarp

    As long as the eu have its tentacles around the, neck of the countries, it will never stop “negotiating”, every shit that happens in the west is carefully negotiated.

  23. avatar
    Jokera Jokerov

    They will never end if started at all. There is no point in negotiations. Britain is already feeling the excitement of being free.

    • avatar
      Uli Czeranka

      Walk away with what and for what?

    • avatar
      Wendy Harris

      With our heads held high and our independence. If the EU want to impose tariffs that’s up to them. We buy too much from the EU anyway.

    • avatar
      Sorin Costea

      Wendy Harris another retard who read on google something for 5 minutes and thinks she is a f expert. Half of UK populatian is retarded for voting brexit. When you will be in deepshit dont try to crawl back tu EU for help. And btw EU invested more in UK, than viceversa so fuck of.

    • avatar
      David Fuzzey

      And stop paying more money to the eu.

  24. avatar
    Michael Holz

    Until agreement is reached but not longer than the deadline in spring 2019. Thread can be closed.

  25. avatar
    José Lambrux Gonçalves

    They don’t want make a Good deal ok, let them go, but no free market with E.U. and the multy nationals will leave U.K. like they said before and then they Will know very well the word monetary Crisis. They want go out but keep things like they are in. They must know and feel that they are out. It Will not be everything pink. And Scotland we are wating for you, scotich people are european not imperialists. Close borders and talk with your islamic extremists alone. You can do it you are U. K. After all.

    • avatar
      Ivan Burrows

      And no free trade for EU companies with the UK, I look forward to seeing you explain to millions of EU workers why you have made them unemployed. You do know the Scot’s do not want independence from the UK don’t you ?

    • avatar
      José Lambrux Gonçalves

      We Will see About Scotland, and the rest deal, the E.U. companies can return and our workers to. You can keep your sharia workers that survive on social Couse they don’t work. We need more countries and friendships. You Will deal with that Alone beacouse U.S. Will not Help if you think so. OfCouse you can take care of this, you are U.K. afterall. Your main export market is E.U. and with no free market more taxes and that means more costs, companies reajustments = unployment. I Will BE in my sofá waiting.

    • avatar
      José Bessa da Silva

      The EU should not punish the UK for doing what they believe is right. The problem with this negociations is the EU, not the UK. To start with there should not even exist any “negociations” with the UK. Any member should be free to tell they want to leave with no further due.

    • avatar
      José Lambrux Gonçalves

      The U.K. joined E.U. and signed a doc and knewed that Will be consequeces if one day they wanted go away. At least they should pay all infraestrutures, jobs, and much more that they did with E.U. Money. It is not only they should go beacouse they belive so. And for What i Saw brexit is more about xenofobia that they have from his european brothers. Now deal with your social dependents shariahood. Your sociaty Will slowly BE destroyed from european values. But don’t worry we Will keep european values and freedom alive.

    • avatar
      José Bessa da Silva

      There are no “doc” about “consequences”. The UK did not join the EU either, it joined the EEC, just like Portugal, which was nothing more than a common market. Also, the EU does not “give money” it loans money. With people like you everyone would be xenophobic with his “european brothers”. Finally I’m not british, Im portuguese. PS: for someone so irritated with british xenophobia you sounded just like a bigot with that “sharia” comment of yours.

    • avatar
      José Lambrux Gonçalves

      Só vou want to Stay that Portugal and U.K. are not in the E.U. right now? Well…..

    • avatar
      José Bessa da Silva

      No, I want to say the EU was made behind our backs. Have you voted EU’s creation? No you did not. I’m still waiting the promised referendum on the Euro, the one promosid for the European Constitution, the one promised on the Lisbon Treaty and the one Rebelo de Sousa already said that “never” will take place on our membership…

    • avatar
      José Lambrux Gonçalves

      Did you asked to be born? no you didn’t and so it goes on and on in many issues. This is not an anerchy. Bring the referendum and stay will allways win, good for Portugal we don’t have many comunists ans left wing extremists.

    • avatar
      José Bessa da Silva

      You must be bloody joking if you think being born is the same as the creation of an institution. Finally, if “stay” would win, Rebelo de Sousa and all the other corrupt centrists wouldn’t be affraid to hold a referendum as they are. Europhiles are a minority lad, that is why you need anti-democratic measures to keep EU alive, while forcing it upon the population through treaties built behind our backs. And then you have the never to call others “extremist”. What a bloody joke…

    • avatar
      José Bessa da Silva

      Article 308 – Treason of the motherland

      Who, by means of violence, threat of violence, usurpation or abuse of functions of sovereignty:

      a) Try to separate from the Mother-Country, or to surrender to a foreign country or to submit to foreign sovereignty, all Portuguese territory or part of, or;

      b) To offend or endanger the independence of the Country;

      is punished with imprisonment from 10 to 20 years.

      PS: The vote is a function of sovereignty. So next time you vote for federalists remember you’re a criminal under your own constitution voted by the portuguese under a national referendum…

  26. avatar
    Tim Nick Knight

    The EU needs to prepare for a hard Brexit. They need to complete an itemize a bill. THey need to prepare hard borders in Ireland. They need to have a trade policy that gives maximum advantage to the EU in every way, as they should. The UK should be no different than any other rival economy We need a strong and immediate policy in place should the UK decide not to pay its debt. Its that simple. No BS, no games. Let them go back to playing games with Trump. The best defense is a good offense.

    • avatar
      Tim Nick Knight

      Ivan, they have tried to work with the UK, but no luck it’s hard as the numbers change with dates etc. But we have to assume the UK leadership collapse will continue.

    • avatar
      Michael Holz

      No need for assumption. There is plenty of evidence and embarrassment from the UK side. It was clear from the beginning that there will be no trade deal talk before the division conditions are settled. What is so hard to understand there?

    • avatar
      José Bessa da Silva

      And why exacly is the EU telling the dates and order of discussion? Is this a real negociation or a sharade made by Brussels to revenge itself of the british democracy?

    • avatar
      Tim Nick Knight

      Ivan Burrows the UK media itself tells you they are a lying disaster. May has been reduced to slowly releasing reality to upset the Brexiters. They are too stupid to accept reality, and have to have it spoon fed

    • avatar
      Tim Nick Knight

      I think Ivan thinks the Mexicans will pay for Brexit

    • avatar
      José Bessa da Silva

      There is no “bill” to be paid. The EU is not a gym with a montly fee, and even if it was, once you leave you don’t pay anymore. I think Tim needs some extra cash to renovate his house and thought it was a good idea to extort the british.

    • avatar
      Tim Nick Knight

      José Bessa da Silva the UK makes obligations to others, pensions projects etc. If you don’t even know that, you should be ashamed to comment on the issue. Put down Facebook and pick up a real book.

    • avatar
      José Bessa da Silva

      Obligations to others? What a bloody joke. Again, once the UK leaves the EU it has no “obligations” about anything you parasite. Go to work instead of trying to rob the brits.

    • avatar
      Wendy Harris

      If there are bills to be paid then there should be a reckoning of the NATO bill and all countries made to pay what they owe. Britain, of course, has always paid more than her share. We are also in the top ten contributors of the UN out of 193 countries.
      The attitude of the EU (and its people) towards Britain serves only to harden our hearts and strengthen our determination to leave. We can now see clearly that we have no friends in this club.

    • avatar
      Tim Nick Knight

      Wendy Harrison Nato has nothing to do with the EU. The UK serves as the shoe boy for the USA, no one gives a sh** about their declining power. In fact the UK losing its UN seat is way way way overdue. As far as going, maybe you have not noticed but the majority are not asking you to stay, they are waiting for you to leave. They have had enough. The UK is like the fat loudmouth relative that says you can not live with out them and threatens to leave. You say OK, leave, and now they will not go

    • avatar
      Tim Nick Knight

      Wendy Harris, now time for all that Trump leg humping by Farage and May to pay off.

  27. avatar
    José Bessa da Silva

    There should’t even be any “negociation”. The EU must accept UK’s decision and it has no right to charge any “fees” as if it was a golf club…

    • avatar
      Michael Holz

      I guess you should probably take a look into the treaties and the budget commitments already made.

    • avatar
      José Bessa da Silva

      I guess you should be reminded that “budget commitments” are meant to it’s members. The day the UK leaves it is no longer a member and therefore it has no duty to EU’s budget. You speak as if a person that goes to a gym and after a month decides to leave would have any duty to pay future montly fees… The EU is trying to extort the UK in a very degrading, corrupt and vengeful way.

  28. avatar
    George Frehden

    Too much scandal! UK decicision to leave can’t be stoped or reversed. EU must think a new form cooperation with UK. UE without cooperation with UK will be a big mistake, with cathastrophic economic results for UE in medium and long term . German lambitions can cost EU sens of integrity, even understanding of the necesity of The UE among States members.

  29. avatar
    Paul Vincent

    No more than a year…UK will be leaving by 1q 2019…so all issues related to our leaving must be fixed by then to go thru parliamentary processes (national &eu).
    Trading relationship may take longer

  30. avatar
    Satsuma Angel

    Not so long. At this point in time every Brit wants Brexit. They imagine lucrative trade deals with Australia, Canada, Turkey and North Korea. And they will crown Trump as the new King.

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