Brussels/London: Britain's government will begin the process of leaving the European Union on March 29, starting the clock on the two years in which to complete the most important negotiation for a generation.
Britain's ambassador to the EU, Tim Barrow, informed the European Council President Donald Tusk of the timing on Monday morning, the Department for Exiting the European Union said. The notification of triggering Article 50 of a key EU treaty will come in the form of a letter delivered to Tusk — though it was unclear whether it would come through an actual letter or an electronic missive.
"We are on the threshold of the most important negotiation for this country for a generation," Brexit secretary David Davis said. "The government is clear in its aims: a deal that works for every nation and region of the UK and indeed for all of Europe - a new, positive partnership between the U.K. and our friends and allies in the European Union."
The 10 Downing Street office of Prime Minister Theresa May said that she will make a statement in the House of Commons on the day Article 50 is triggered. The announcement came after May pushed through legislation to start the negotiations to start withdrawal — a process set in motion by voters in a June 23 referendum.
The European Commission said it stood ready to help launch the negotiations.
"Everything is ready on this side," commission spokesman Margaritis Schinas said.
The European Union is fully prepared for Brexit negotiations after Britain announced that it would trigger its divorce on March 29, the European Commission said on Monday.
"Everything is ready on this side," Margaritis Schinas, the spokesman for European Commission chief Jean-Claude Juncker, told a briefing.
"Yes we have been informed in advance. We are ready to begin negotiations. We are waiting for the letter. Now we know it will come on the 29th."
EU President Donald Tusk tweeted that "within 48 hours of the UK triggering Article 50, I will present the draft #Brexit guidelines to the EU27 Member States."
However the actual start of talks between Britain and the EU is not likely for another six to eight weeks, EU sources told AFP.
Leaders of the remaining EU 27 states must first hold a summit to approve the guidelines. Officials say that is now likely to be held in early May.
Schinas said that the European Commission, the executive arm of the bloc, will then issue a formal recommendation to open Brexit negotiations shortly after the summit.
That will later be adopted by the 27 member states without Britain, which will give Commission Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier a mandate to actually begin talks.