The UK government has kick started the Brexit process for Britain to formally leave the European Union (EU) in two years time by triggering Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty.
Britain's EU ambassador Tim Barrow handed over the Brexit notification letter (Article 50) to Donald Tusk, President of the European Council, beginning the legal process.
Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty allows a member state to notify the EU of its withdrawal and obliges the EU to try to negotiate a 'withdrawal agreement' with that state. It involves five points:
1. Any Member State may decide to withdraw from the Union in accordance with its own constitutional requirements.
2.A Member State which decides to withdraw shall notify the European Council of its intention. In the light of the guidelines provided by the European Council, the Union shall negotiate and conclude an agreement with that State, setting out the arrangements for its withdrawal, taking account of the framework for its future relationship with the Union. That agreement shall be negotiated in accordance with Article 218(3) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union. It shall be concluded on behalf of the Union by the Council, acting by a qualified majority, after obtaining the consent of the European Parliament.
3.The Treaties shall cease to apply to the State in question from the date of entry into force of the withdrawal agreement or, failing that, two years after the notification referred to in paragraph 2, unless the European Council, in agreement with the Member State concerned, unanimously decides to extend this period.
4.For the purposes of paragraphs 2 and 3, the member of the European Council or of the Council representing the withdrawing Member State shall not participate in the discussions of the European Council or Council or in decisions concerning it. A qualified majority shall be defined in accordance with Article 238(3)(b) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union.
5.If a State which has withdrawn from the Union asks to rejoin, its request shall be subject to the procedure referred to in Article 49.
Agreements or any extension to Article 50 will have to be approved by all 27 member states and will likely require ratification by national parliaments.
Addressing the House of Commons, British Prime Minister Theresa May said that leaving the EU presents the UK with a unique opportunity, adding that it is this generation's chance to build a better future.
"The Article 50 process is now underway, and in accordance with the wishes of the British people, the United Kingdom is leaving the European Union.
This is an historic moment from which there can be no turning back. Britain is leaving the European Union. We are going to make our own decisions and our own laws," she said.
The Guardian quoted May as saying that she wants a "new, special and deep partnership with the European Union".
She confirmed that the rights of EU nationals will be an early priority of her administration.
May said that in the months ahead she will represent every person in the United Kingdom, including EU nationals.
May said she wants to deliver a smooth and orderly Brexit, adding that it is in the interests of both the UK and the EU that there is as little disruption as possible.
However, May said she wants the UK to continue trading with the EU.
Reacting to Britain's triggering of Article 50, Tusk said he has received a six-page letter to start the negotiations on Britain leaving the EU and there is no reason to pretend this as a happy day in Brussels or in London.
"We regret that the United Kingdom will leave the European Union, but we are ready for the process that we now will have to follow.For the European Union, the first step will now be the adoption of guidelines for the negotiations by the European council. These guidelines will set out the overall positions and principles in light of which the union, represented by the European commission, will negotiate with the United Kingdom," said a statement issued by European Council.
(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)