A Girlfriend’s Guide to Divorce

“It’s over.” Prime Minister Theresa May has formally filed Britain’s divorce papers, initiating a two-year break-up with the European Union. May submitted the official letter at the end of March, requesting a sweeping free trade deal that would protect vital industries such as banking and technology. While formal separation proceedings have yet to begin, an immediate conflict over the sequence of talks was apparent. May has called for future trade parameters to be discussed in tandem with terms of exit, while the president of the European Council, Donald Tusk, has underlined the need to first safeguard the rights of expatriates. Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany echoed this sentiment, stating that, “The negotiations must first clarify how we will disentangle our interlinked relationship. Only when this question is dealt with can we begin talking about our future relationship.” Europe is taking a cautious approach to negotiations, as any deal struck between the U.K. and EU has the potential to set a precedent for other countries considering leaving the bloc. EU officials have made it clear that the U.K. will not enjoy better terms outside the Union than inside it. Indeed, time constraints limit Britain’s leverage because it would face a flurry of tariffs and customs barriers if a deal is not struck during the two-year period, a so-called “cliff edge.” The EU will bide its time in crafting a response; the remaining 27 nations will vote on their terms for exit negotiations at a summit meeting on April 29th. Still, May insists that “no deal is better than a bad deal.”

Source: Bloomberg, New York Times