(FILES) This file photo taken on February 20, 2017 shows a European Union flag flying in front of Elizabeth Tower, otherwise known as Big Ben, as an anti-Trump protest gets underway in London on February 20, 2017, as parliament debates whether or not to allow Donald Trump a state visit. The British government is to activate Article 50 to formally begin the process of exiting the European Union on March 29, 2017, Downing Street announced. / AFP PHOTO / Justin TALLIS
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.