25th Mar 2018

Tusk: Brexit talks could take seven years

  • Tete-a-tete: Tusk talking to Cameron (l) on the sidelines of an EU summit (Photo:

EU Council chief Donald Tusk warned that renegotiating the relationship between the UK and the EU could take up to seven years, in case Britons vote to leave the bloc in the 23 June referendum.

Tusk told German newspaper Bild that while the exit has to be negotiated in two years, agreeing to a new deal on the relations which would have to be approved by all the 27 governments and the European Parliament, could take up to five years more.

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The former Polish prime minister warned that even then it is not a done deal.

"That would take at least five years, and I'm afraid, without any guarantee of success," added Tusk.

Under EU rules, article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty, the member state wishing to leave needs to notify the European Council.

Then a "withdrawal agreement" needs to be negotiated on such things as tariffs on British goods and freedom of movement with the remaining member states within two years after the notification.

But if no deal is reached within that timeframe, EU rules automatically cease to apply to the country that wants to leave, unless all member states agree to extend the negotiating period.

At this stage, EU sources suggested, member states favoured a quick and tough deal with the UK to dissuade others from leaving.

But ratification could be long and painful, Tusk suggested.

Earlier British prime minister David Cameron also said that Britain could face a “decade of uncertainty” while a new relationship is established with the rest of the EU.

The EU Council president's comments came as one poll suggested a strong lead for the Leave camp.

An online opinion poll for the Independent newspaper Friday showed the Brexit camp leading by 10 percentage points ahead of the referendum next week.

Another poll published by the Financial Times also suggested that the Leave camp is leading by one percent.

Former Labour prime minister Gordon Brown will step up his campaign efforts this week to shore up working-class voters, many of whom have now sided with the Leave camp. Brown will also visit Brussels on Monday (13 June).


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Cameron warns of Brexit 'madness'

In an TV debate three weeks before the EU membership referendum, the British prime minister defended his promise to curb migration and warned that leaving the EU would be "economic self-harm".

Germany warns UK on single market access

If the UK leaves the EU it would lose access to the single market, Germany's powerful finance chief has said. The EU would also halt integration, he added.

EU data chiefs rally behind UK over Cambridge Analytica

EU leaders at a Brussels summit demand social networks and digital platforms guarantee transparency and privacy. Their call comes amid growing backlash against Facebook and Cambridge Analytica over voter manipulation.

'Decisive step' in Brexit ahead of EU summit

The UK and the EU have reached a legal agreement on citizens' rights and the financial settlement, but with still little progress on the future of the Irish border.

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