Downing Street has published the letter to the European Council written by Theresa May to trigger Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty on 29 March. The letter was hand delivered to Donald Tusk, the president of the European Council, by Tim Barrow, the permanent representative of the United Kingdom to the European Council.
An historic signalling of Britain’s official withdrawal from the EU, the letter gives ‘effect to the democratic decision of the people of the United Kingdom.’ In it, the prime minister repeats her hope that the UK and the EU can begin a new ‘deep and special’ relationship; one that is paramount to the future prosperity of both the UK and the EU.
The letter to the European Council is structured on a set of core principles that will help to shape the forthcoming negotiations. This includes the intention to utilise existing EU legislation and converting those into UK law where possible and appropriate. The aim here is to provide certainty for UK citizens in the EU and EU citizens conducting business in the UK as soon as possible. The government is to discuss how it will design and implement these new laws and will publish a White Paper soon.
Mrs May stressed to the European Council that she hopes the negotiating parties will secure a comprehensive agreement that takes into consideration economic and security cooperation between the UK and the EU. In line with the requests of major business bodies in the UK, the prime minister seeks to agree implementation periods to be set in place in both the UK and the EU to allow businesses to adjust from the current relationship to the future partnership, avoiding a cliff-edge Brexit.
With trade agreements already in place with the current UK-EU regulatory frameworks, it is imperative that the government—along with EU officials—discuss how that infrastructure will evolve with the new relationship post-Brexit and how it will work to resolve disputes in the future. The government’s main priority at this point is to protect the sectors most crucial to our economy, including the financial services sector and the network industries.
‘We start from a unique position in these discussions—close regulatory alignment, trust in one another’s institutions, and a spirit of cooperation stretching back decades,’ says May in her letter to the European Council. ‘It is for these reasons, and because the future partnership between the UK and the EU is of such importance to both sides, that I am sure it can be agreed in the time period set out by the Treaty,’ she ends.
Read the letter to the European Council to trigger Article 50 in full, here: Letter to European Council