“Don’t let the door hit you on your way out.” That is an old adage that has been used sarcastically when someone’s exit is mocked. Symbolically, Europe is telling Great Britain just that as fair warning to any other member of the European Union (EU) who might consider an exit. Brits voted in 2016 to make their exit from the EU amid protests and inter-regional disagreement.

With the complexity of the original agreement, 45 years ago, the exit from this agreement has made Brexit a challenging event on many levels; politically, economically, socially and legally. While the United Kingdom (U.K.) remains a part of the EU for now, the timeline for negotiating a deal is drawing near.

For many Brits, the European Union proved too expensive to belong to, did not offer sufficient vetting on uncontrolled immigration and was out of touch. Their discontent mounted with repeated terrorist attacks within their borders.

Another thing that joined most of the EU nations was adoption of the euro. Only the U.K., Sweden and Denmark decided against using the currency.

The European Union, as a free-trade zone and a 28-nation bloc, has had the strength of numbers in trade deals and dealing with member’s financial challenges. There has been some other benefits as well to the agreement, as seen in the bail-outs of Greece, Portugal, the Irish Republic and Spain in the recent past. The EU survived a debt crisis by shoring up member countries.

The Negotiations

Negotiators from both sides have been hammering out a post-Brexit relationship and trade agreement. They also have to formally approve of the exit from the EU, regardless of the vote in the U.K.

The exit by the people of the United Kingdom provided their own set of challenges, both in trade and political relationships. The most recent reports claim that the two sides are making “headway.” That was followed by suggestions that Prime Minister Theresa May and her European counterparts in Brussels, have come to an impasse.

The complexity of an exit from the EU includes getting it ratified in all 27 EU Parliaments and the British Parliament and the European Parliament. Since the deadline for the full British exit from the EU is the end of March, 2019, the components should be worked out before mid-November, according to the principals. On top of a complicated agreement, the language of the agreement has to be translated into two dozen languages. That process will take time.

Part of the delay in getting to this point has been the lack of agreement within the United Kingdom. There are disparate factions who see the terms of the exit much differently. It was just recently that the Prime Minister came up with a proposal that provided some basis for getting the negotiations moving forward.

Another issue that complicates the negotiations is that the country of Ireland is divided between Northern Ireland, part of the U.K., and Ireland, part of the EU. How do you handle the border without impacting the local culture? Another point of contention is around customs arrangements and regulations.

Also, some who were opposed to Brexit in the first place, have attempted to undermine the negotiations. They claim that the British Parliament may call for another general election on the subject or an election to vote on the options negotiated by the Prime Minister. Keep watching the developments because Brexit isn’t a done deal yet.

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