Process of Withdrawal and Useful Information

PM May TRIGGERED ARTICLE 50 on the 29th March 2017

May has signed the document informing the European Council of Britain's intention to leave the European Union. This means that the UK should officially leave the EU no later than April 2019.There will now be around “four to six weeks” as EU states agree to the proposed response by consensus.

Once the EU27 have formally adopted the guidelines, the European commission is expected to quickly present more detailed draft directives and recommend the opening of talks, which will then agreement by qualified majority at a meeting of ministers of the EU27, known as the general affairs council. A date has yet been set for that ministerial meeting but it is only then that the talks with the UK will be formally opened.

In her six page letter, Mrs May indicated her hope for a “deep and special partnership” between the EU and Britain. Mrs May warned the EU that negotiations on the terms of Britain's "divorce bill" must take place alongside talks on a new trade deal the remaining member states.

The Rt Hon David Davis, Secretary of State for Exiting the EU stated that "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 UK and our friends and allies in the European Union".


March 30 2017: A white paper was produced on the Great Repeal Bill - the legislation that will turn more than 40 years of EU regulations into domestic laws. The white paper can be found here.

April 29 2017: An extraordinary European Council summit of the remaining 27 states was held to agree a mandate for chief negotiator Michel Barnier.

May 7 2017: French elections - Emmanuel Macron was elected President.

June 8 2017: UK General elections

Summer 2017: Intensive negotiations are expected to continue through the summer, with early discussions on the status of EU citizens living in the UK and British nationals resident on the continent.

September 24 2017: German federal elections.

October 2018: This is the target date Mr Barnier has set for concluding withdrawal negotiations, in order to allow time for them to be ratified before the end of the two-year Article 50 deadline.

March 29 2019:Two years after the invocation of Article 50, the UK ceases to be a member of the EU and is no longer subject to its treaties, whether or not a withdrawal agreement has been reached.

May 2019: European Parliament elections will take place. The UK will not take part.

Process of withdrawal 

The formal process of withdrawing from the EU has begun, as the Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty (signed in 2007) has been triggered. The full process of Article 50 can be found here.

The chart below shows this process from a UK perspective. Whilst the process is given a two-year deadline, it is likely that trade negotiations will be time consuming and could take much longer. The history of Europe’s trade negotiations with other states should be considered, with these taking on a much longer timeline.

Process for negotiating withdrawal from the EU (Article 50) and for negotiating a new agreement under the Treaty on European Union (TEU)

Withdrawing from the EU chart

Source: The process for withdrawing from the European Union by HM Government, presented to Parliament by the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs by Command of Her Majesty, February 2016

The Select Comittee's 1st Report of Season 2016-17 can be found here, which describes the process of exiting the European Union and the Government's negotiating objectives.

International Law Firm Hogan Lovells gives an in depth account of six things to know about the legal process of leaving the EU in 'What next for Brexit?'. The UK constitutional requirements for triggering Article 50 have been looked at by the Law Society.


A list of articles from a wide range of sources has been oulined below, that may be useful to your network and visitors to our website.

For a ‘Brexit Roadmap’, this article by Politico is interesting, looking at the key players and turning points in the coming months. The 'what, who, how and when' has been explored by the Institute for Government in its Brexit Brief

Damian Chalmers, Professor of EU Law at the National University of Singapore and the London School of Economics and Political Science, and Anand Menon, Professor of European Politics and Foreign Affairs at Kings College London and Director of the ESRC's UK in a Changing Europe initiative, argue for a three step Brexit solution, in 'Getting out quick and playing the long game' published by Open Europe. 

Possible effect on Immigration

Immigration formed a central part of the UK EU Referendum debate, causing many Europeans already resident in the UK to worry about their status following the Referendum result. Goodwille, a back office outsourcing company and member of the Finnish-British Chamber of Commerce, has published What does Brexit mean for Europeans who are already resident in the UK? on its website.

The effect of Brexit on immigration has also been considered by Open Europe, looking at the various policy options in 'What would Brexit mean for immigration?'

Legal firm Blake Morgan suggests some contingency planning for employers to reassure staff in 'Brexit: the implications for employers.'

Freedom of movement remains one of the key areas to be discussed in forthcoming negotiations. 

Likely effect on business

The ICAEW offer practical advice on the impact of the decision to leave the EU And opportunities for future business.

PWC produced a detailed report  'Leaving the EU: implications for the UK economy' which includes a table of possible scenarios. .

The Financial Times has published an extensive assessment in 'What are the economic Conssequences of Brexit?' The Economist takes a comprehensive look at the possible effects by in sector in 'Rules and Britannia'.. 

A comprehensive look at what the initial impact of Brexit will be on businesses trading with the EU in the Open to Export article 'What does Brexit mean for businesses trading with the EU?'

KPMG,has practical advice for small businesses in 'Brexit strategy: walking out the door'

With the implementation of Article 50 approaching, the economic environment continues to evolve. HSBC is helping companies get an idea of the factors that will have the biggest impact on business’s growth plans through a series of webcasts on 'what Brexit means for UK businesses'.

IOD Brexit Hub is full of useful information for members and visitors to the IOD website.

Agents’ summary of business conditions’ Intelligence report on business conditions post-referendum –  Bank of England July 2016 Update 

Financial Times have provided a Brexit business impact tracker, showing how the vote to leave the EU has affected companies - 'be it job cuts and profit warnings, or new UK investments'.

"It might sound scary, but in the long-term a ‘hard Brexit’ without access to the single market could work out for the best" – Hamish McRae in The Independent 


European perspectives from our network

The general feeling on the referendum from our network was one of regret and shock, after 89% of COBCOE member chambers believed it was in the UK’s best interests to remain in the EU, The overriding theme is for business to keep calm and carry on. As suggested by the CEO of the British Chamber of Commerce in Belgium, Glenn Vaughan, when speaking at the TAF Conference 16, business should ‘not panic, instead make a plan’.

For a personal reaction to the Referendum from France, see '2 weeks later' in the Franco-British Chamber's blog, The Channel. 

British Irish Chamber of Commerce's Brexit Business Survey highights the threat, and opportunity, of Brexit for Irish business.

COBCOE member chambers remain committed to supporting international trade with the UK, with strong messages coming from the British Chamber of Commerce in Belgium, British Irish Chamber of Commerce and the British Polish Chamber of Commerce  that business must continue, and the chamber teams are ready to support any company looking to trade internationally.

Further reading

We recommend: 

Hogan Lovells Brexit Hub

IOD Brexit Hub

British Swiss Chamber of Commerce Brexit Publication

Franco-British Chamber of Commerce and Industry

BBC - Brexit: All you need to know about the UK leaving the EU

Brexit makes waves across the European Union and beyond by Anne-Marie Martin, Chief Executive, COBCOE



Hogan Lovells logoCOBCOE's Brexit Ambition partner is Hogan Lovells, the international law firm.




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