By Hosni Imam
LONDON, March 29 (KUNA) -- British Prime minister Theresa May will officially trigger Wednesday the UK's withdrawal from the European Union which will signal the start of a long and agonising process, which will change the history of the whole continent, analysts said.
The Prime Minister is sending a letter to European Council President Donald Tusk activating Article 50, which starts the clock on two years of intense and protracted negotiations.
However, some experts predict that the negotiations could last ten years.
Meanwhile, May made a statement to the House of Commons today to notify MPs she has begun Brexit talks.
It is expected that the serious part of the negotiations would only start after the French and the German elections later this year.
Last week, the UK's permanent representative to the EU, Sir Tim Barrow, informed Tusk's office of the Government's intention to formally trigger the exit process.
Once Article 50 is triggered, Tusk is expected to provide an initial response to the Prime Minister within 48 hours, and the remaining EU 27 countries will then put together a timetable for negotiations on the UK's withdrawal to take place, officials here said.
The British government stressed: "We want negotiations to start promptly, but it's obviously right the 27 have an opportunity to agree their position." The analysts underlined that the UK is on the threshold of the most important negotiation for this country for a generation.
The May Government has reiterated that "its aims is to reach a deal that works for every nation and region of the UK and indeed for all of Europe - a new, positive partnership between the UK and our friends and allies in the European Union." But with the triggering of the starting shot of the UK divorce from the EU there are mixed feelings here about the outcome of this dramatic move which will end 43 years of Britain's membership of this union, the analysts pointed out.
One of the key items up for discussion is the size of the "UK's divorce bill" - the amount required to fund previously agreed EU budget plans and pensions.
The final bill has been estimated between 150 billion Euros and 60 billion Euros.
Alongside the separation negotiations, the UK is hoping to strike a comprehensive free trade deal with the EU within the two-year period. The opponents of the withdrawal accuse the Prime Minister of being "about to unleash division and bitterness".
They claim that May is "embarking on an extreme and divisive Brexit without a proper plan, and without a clue." There are calls here and in Europe that the EU and British nationals living in either side should be the first deal done in the negotiation. In the meantime, there are endless questions here about what would the exit from the 28-nation EU - look like? Eurosceptics argue that withdrawal would reverse immigration, save the taxpayer billions of pounds and free Britain from a huge economic burden. Europhiles counter that it would lead to deep economic uncertainty and cost thousands, possibly even millions, of jobs.
There are also other questions about what Brexit would mean for growth, trade, and Britain's position in the world.
On the other hand, some analysts argue the economy will suffer permanent losses on the back of weaker trade and investment. But others say freedom from the rules, as well as the costs, that come with EU membership would make Britain more prosperous.
One analysis often cited is from researchers at the National Institute of Economic and Social Research in 2004. They found an exit from the EU would permanently reduce UK GDP by 2.25 percent, mainly because of lower foreign direct investment. That estimate is now old and, as the think tank's current head, Jonathan Portes, has pointed out, the world economy has changed considerably in the past decade.
Another analysis by economists at the Centre for Economic Performance (CEP), part of the London School of Economics, London University, calculated the UK could suffer income falls of between 6.3 to 9.5 percent of GDP, similar to the loss resulting from the global financial crisis of 2008-09. A vote was held here on Thursday 23 June, 2016, to decide whether the UK should leave or remain in the EU.
Leave won by 52 percent to 48 percent, with more than 30 million people voting.
Both the UK and the EU want trade to continue after Brexit and the British PM said she wants to reach a new Customs Union deal with the EU, such a union means that countries agree not to impose tariffs on each others' goods and have a common tariff on goods coming from elsewhere.
There are fears that the EU wants to punish the UK for leaving the Union, but May said last January that such a harsh measure would be "an act of calamitous self-harm".
At the end of the negotiations May promised that Parliament would vote on the final deal that is agreed. (end) he.gta