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Following the triggering of Article 50 on 29 March 2017, what has happened and what are the next steps?

UK leaves the EU on 29 March 2019 at 11pm GMT

Draft Transitional Arrangement until 31st December 2020

When the British Ambassador to the EU handed Theresa May’s letter to the President of the EU Council, Donald Tusk, it finally began the Article 50 process by which the UK will leave the Union. “An historic moment from which there can be no turning back”, as the Prime Minister put it. The clock is ticking and the two sides began the two years process to agree on the terms of the UK’s departure, and the shape of its future political and trading relationship.

Michel Barnier, the former French Foreign Minister, is the EU’s lead negotiator with leading MEP Guy Verhofstadt representing the interests of the European Parliament. David Davies was originally the Brexit Secretary for the UK but he resigned in July 2018 after the issuing of the Chequers White Paper; Dominic Raab took over as the Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union (DExEU) and UK's Brexit negotiator, though PM Theresa May did announce that she would be heading up negotiations when the Parliaments return from their summer recess. .

The UK is due to leave the EU at 11pm on the 29th March 2019.  A draft Transitional Arrangement is awaiting agreement; this would mean the UK remains as part of the Customs Union until 31st December 2020 acting like an EU member ... minus the voting power.

The UK Government is being pushed by Brussels to give a clear indication of the future relationship they want with the EU27.  The UK government meeting at Chequers on 6th July 2018 led to the issuing of a white paper outlining the new Facilitative Customs Arrangement (FCA) whereby the UK and EU will operate under a Common Rule book and importers would be able to select whether the UK tariff or EU tariff would apply when goods are entered to customs.  The decision would be based on where the goods would be consumed.  If the country of end-use changes and there is a difference between the two tariffs (ie UK and EU) then the company have to pay a top-up or be able to claim a refund.  The proposal will see the UK leave the Customs Union and Single Market while maintaining a procedure to utilise the principle of Free Circulation of Goods where relevant.  Both the UK and European Parliament are in summer recess until September when negotiations will start again though both sides are taking this time to review how these proposal would work in practice.  The clock is ticking and things need to move on in a more positive way so the non-binding joint political statement from Brussels can be made in October 2018 to sanction the Transitional Arrangement.  Another option, though, appears to be being discussed that if no agreement is found, UK-EU27 could extend the maximum 2-year withdrawal period outlined under Article 50 of the TEU so the UK doesn’t have to leave the EU on the 29th March 2019 — but only if all 27 Member States agree.

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