Brussels, June 25: After Britain decided to leave the European Union (EU) on Thursday, the European Council chief has predicted that the unprecedented political "divorce process" between Britain and the EU could take several years.
Donald Tusk, President of the European Council, has warned that re-negotiating the relationship between Britain and the EU could take up to seven years, reported Xinhua news agency.
In accordance with EU law, the British government first has to launch a proposal to activate Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty, which sets out the procedural requirements for a member state to terminate its membership.
Then a "withdrawal agreement" needs to be negotiated on such things as tariffs on British goods and freedom of movement between Britain and the remaining EU member states. Legal withdrawal would mean that EU treaties and their protocols no longer apply to Britain, and EU financial programmes would be phased out.
After the signing of a new deal between Britain and the EU, which according to the Lisbon Treaty should be concluded in the course of two years, "Every single one of the 27 member states as well as the European parliament would have to approve the overall result. That would take at least five years and, I'm afraid, without any guarantee of success", Tusk told German magazine Bild earlier this month.
The ratification process could be long and painful, Tusk warned. It is predicted that the EU would offer a tough deal to Britain to dissuade others from leaving.