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Brexit talks set to be 'complex and messy'


brussels bureau

Brexit talks set to be 'complex and messy'

With the UK firing the starting gun for Brexit talks, one analyst is warning the negotiations will be “complex and messy.”

Stefan Lehne, from Carnegie Europe, also says remaining EU members will want to see Britain “pay the price” for leaving.

Damon Embling, Euronews: “This isn’t going to be a quick divorce is it? Where do things go from here?

Stefan Lehne, Carnegie Europe: “Well the letter will contain indications of the negotiating position of the UK and now the EU will have to formulate its response. There will be consultations among the 27, there will be a summit in a few weeks and then the UK will be given their answer. And the actual negotiations will begin then in early Summer, say June.

“There’s very very little time for extremely complex negotiating process, because Article 50 says clearly that it has to be concluded in two years. So in two years the UK will be out.

“But, and it’s not clear whether that will work. If the UK leaves without an agreement, that will be disaster for both sides. And that will be just the exit. The new arrangements, the new free trade agreement will probably take a lot longer to negotiate, might take five to ten years.”

Euronews: “British Prime Minister Theresa May has said that she is going to negotiate hard. We’ve also had the voices here in Brussels and elsewhere in the European Union, saying there is not going to be any cherry picking. In reality, how do you think these talks will actually work out?”

Stefan Lehne: “It’s going to be incredibly complex and very messy. It’s very clear to EU member states that the UK will have to pay a price for not any longer being in the EU. So having the cake and eating it is not acceptable to the 27.”

Euronews: “And how much do you think this is about Brussels getting that message out there about all of that… How much are they trying to put off other countries from exiting the European Union? France comes to mind for instance.

Stefan Lehne: “Well the interesting thing is that following the Brexit referendum, the opinion polls show that support for EU membership has gone up, in just about every member state. I think the European economy is now recovering, it’s not in such bad shape – and I’m not sure many countries will follow the UK to the exit.”

Euronews: “This is a divorce, but surely the UK and the EU will want to remain good friends, won’t they?”

Stefan Lehne: “Well, absolutely in the longer term, there’s a huge interest. The UK has a lot to offer, it’s a permanent member in the Security Council, it has a very effective foreign policy, it has fantastic intelligence services, it can make a big contribution to Europe, economically but also in terms of security.

“There is ongoing great interest of all the 27 that the new relationship will be in both sides’ interest.”