Britain’s Prime Minister Theresa May announced in a major speech on 17 January 2017 that her country will leave the Single Market and the customs union. The impact on EU secondary legislation, such as provisions for social security, is quite uncertain.

AD – 01/2017

Britain must take the first step

It is now almost seven months since the referendum on the withdrawal from the European Union. Britain has not yet formally triggered Article 50 of the EU Treaty which allows any Member State to leave the Union in accordance with its own constitutional requirements. A Member State which has decided to withdraw is required to notify the European Council of its intention. Based on the guidelines of the European Council, the European Union enters into negotiations with this Member State over the details of the withdrawal, taking into account the framework for the future relationship of this Member State with the Union.  


The agreement is negotiated according to Article 218, Paragraph 3 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union. It is concluded by the Council on behalf of the Union following a qualified majority and consent of the European Parliament. The Treaties cease to apply to the State concerned from the day the withdrawal agreement enters into force or, failing that, two years after the notification is submitted, unless the European Council unanimously agrees with the Member State concerned to extend this period. 

Michel Barnier is the European Commission’s Chief Negotiator

Frenchman Michel Barnier, 66, was the French Foreign Minister from 2004 to 2005 and EU Commissioner for Internal Market and Services between 2010 and 2014. Since 1 October 2016, he has been the European Commission’s Chief Negotiator with the United Kingdom for its exit from the EU. He has now indicated that the period for actual negotiations will be shorter than envisaged by London. There are now only 18 months left for negotiations because all 27 EU Member States, the European Parliament and the United Kingdom itself must all approve the complex exit agreement. The actual Brexit is planned for 1 April 2019 because a new EU Parliament must be elected in June 2019 and Barnier has stated that the UK will not participate in the election.  

12-point plan

UK Prime Minister Theresa May announced in her speech on 17 January 2017 that her country will leave the Single Market and the customs union. In her speech, she outlined the guiding principles for Brexit in a 12-point plan. 


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