Michel Barnier, the head of the European Commission’s UK-EU Brexit negotiation team, made his first public comments on the Brexit process at a press conference in Brussels yesterday.
Barnier stated that the two year time frame for the Article 50 negotiations would need to include time for the preparation of guidelines, and the ratification of the UK-EU divorce agreement (anticipated to take around six months).
He predicted that negotiations would last around 18 months, and should come to an end by October 2018 in order to allow six months for ratification of the agreement.
Barnier said: “All in all there will be less than 18 months to negotiate. That is short. Should the UK notify the Council by the end of March 2017, as Prime Minister Theresa May said she would, it is safe to say that negotiations could start a few weeks later, and an Article 50 agreement be reached by October 2018.”
A video of Barnier’s full remarks can be found here.