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'No winners' as UK formally notifies EU of intention to leave

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'No winners' as UK formally notifies EU of intention to leave

Barrow - Tusk - Article 50 - Photo EU Council

(BRUSSELS) - The British government duly delivered a letter from Prime Minister Theresa May to the European Council Wednesday, notifying it of the United Kingdom's intention to leave the European Union.

The six-page long notification was delivered by the UK's Permanent Representative to the EU, Tim Barrow, and follows the referendum of 23 June last year, narrowly won by the Leave campaign.

It formally starts the negotiations of the UK's withdrawal from the European Union.

A gloomy EU president Donald Tusk said he had no reason to be happy about the notification: "After all most Europeans, including almost half the British voters, wished that we would stay together, not drift apart," he said.

There were no winners in this process, "and I am talking about both sides. In essence, this is about damage control."

The only positive was, he said. that "Brexit had made us, the community of 27, more determined and more united than before." Mr Tusk expressed "full confidence" that the EU would remain determined and united also in the future, during the difficult negotiations ahead."

His goal was clear: "to minimise the cost for the EU citizens, businesses and Member States." He said he would do everything in his power to achieve that goal.

Mr Tusk also warned that there had been no change in the UK's relationship with the EU as of this moment: "Until the UK leaves the EU, EU law will apply to, and within, the United Kingdom."

The European Council released a statement today in which it said the EU will act as one, and start negotiations by focusing on key arrangements for an orderly withdrawal.

On Friday, Mr Tusk will share a proposal of the negotiating guidelines with the 27 EU Member States, with a view to adopting these at a special meeting of the European Council on 29 April.

The UK and the EU now have two years to negotiate a withdrawal agreement. In addition the two will need to start determining the future trade relations, though this is expected to take significantly longer.

Article 50 sets out the process for a member state to leave the EU. It is up to the country in question to withdraw "in accordance with its own constitutional requirements". Once triggered, article 50 allows for two years of negotiations, although this can be extended unanimously by the European Council.

Although the aim is to come to a deal, it is also possible there is no agreement at all.

Article 50 of the Treaty on European Union - 
determining the future of UK-EU relations

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