On 29 March 2017 the UK formally notified to the European Council its intention to leave the EU.

"There is no reason to pretend that this is a happy day, neither in Brussels, nor in London", said Donald Tusk, President of the European Council on the day. He added that the community of 27 would remain "determined and united" in the negotiations ahead: "Our goal is clear: to minimise the costs for the EU citizens, businesses and member states." 

The Article 50 notification follows the results of the UK referendum on 23 June 2016. 

2017

22 June

European Council (Article 50)

On 22 June, the European Council (Article 50), in an EU 27 format, reviewed the latest developments in the negotiations following the United Kingdom's notification under Article 50 TEU.

In the margins of this meeting, the EU27 leaders endorsed the procedure for the relocation of the EU agencies currently located in the UK.

20 June

General Affairs Council (Art. 50)

The Council, in an EU27 format, was informed by the Commission about the first round of Brexit negotiations with the UK. Ministers discussed the state of play of the Brexit talks and the way ahead.  

In the margins of the Council meeting, EU27 ministers discussed the procedure for deciding on the relocation of the two UK-based EU agencies.

EU27 leaders are expected to endorse the procedure, in the margins of European Council (Article 50) on 22 June 2017.

This procedure would consist of: 

  • a call for offers from the member states
  • an assessment by the Commission based on objective criteria
  • a final decision by the 27 member states by vote in the autumn of 2017

19 June

Start of negotiations between the EU and the UK

On 19 June 2017 Michel Barnier, the EU Chief Negotiator, and David Davis, Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union launched the first round of Brexit negotiations. This one-day event took place in Brussels.    

Apart from the structure of the negotiations and forthcoming issues, the opening of negotiations focused on: 

  • issues related to citizens' rights
  • the financial settlement
  • the Northern Irish border
  • other separation issues

Alongside the European Commission representatives, representatives of the President of the European Council were present and participated in a supporting role in the negotiations. The EU negotiator will systematically report to the European Council, the Council and its preparatory bodies.

22 May

General Affairs Council (Article 50)

On 22 May, the Council, meeting in an EU27 format, adopted a decision authorising the opening of Brexit negotiations with the UK. The decision also nominated the European Commission as the EU negotiator.

The Council also adopted negotiating directives (a mandate for the Commission), intended for the first phase of the negotiations.

It also adopted a decision establishing an ad hoc working party that will assist the Council and Coreper in matters relating to the UK's withdrawal from the Union.

17 May

EU27 ambassadors endorse transparency principles

The Permanent Representatives Committee (Coreper), meeting in an EU27 format, endorsed guiding principles for transparency in the Brexit negotiations. These principles will facilitate effective public scrutiny of the upcoming unprecedented negotiations.

All negotiating documents of the EU negotiator (the Commission) shared with the Council, the European Parliament or the UK will be released to the public, within the limits of EU law.

Rules on transparency and public access to documents will apply to all documents in the context of the Brexit negotiations.

3 May

European Commission recommends draft negotiating directives

The Commission presented to the Council (at the Coreper level) a recommendation for a Council decision on the Brexit negotiations. It includes draft negotiating directives (detailed mandate for the Commission). 

Based on this recommendation, the General Affairs Council on 22 May 2017 is expected to authorise the opening of negotiations, nominate the Commission as the EU negotiator and adopt the negotiating directives. 

29 April

Special European Council (Article 50)

On 29 April, the EU27 leaders met at the first summit after the UK officially triggered Art. 50. They unanimously adopted guidelines for the Brexit talks ahead. This will define the framework for negotiations and set out the overall EU positions and principles. 

27 April

General Affairs Council (Art. 50)

The Council, in an EU27 format, finalised preparations for the Special European Council (Art.50) of 29 April 2017 by discussing the draft guidelines for the Brexit negotiations.

6 April

President Donald Tusk meets Prime Minister Theresa May in London

The President of the European Council met the UK Prime Minister a week after the official notification of Article 50. 

"Meeting Theresa May to make sure Brexit talks get off to good start. We both agreed to stay in regular contact throughout the whole process."

President Donald Tusk 

31 March

Draft guidelines for negotiations are sent to the leaders

Draft guidelines were issued on 31 March 2017. President Tusk outlined the main elements of the proposal at the press briefing held in Malta on that day. 

"The EU27 do not and will not pursue a punitive approach. Brexit in itself is already punitive enough. After more than forty years of being united, we owe it to each other to do everything we can to make this divorce as smooth as possible."

President Donald Tusk 

The special European Council (Article 50), in an EU 27 format, will meet on 29 April 2017 to agree the final text of the guidelines.

29 March

UK formally triggers Article 50 to leave the EU

The UK formally notified to the European Council its intention to leave the EU. 

The European Council adopted a statement on the UK notification.   

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. (...) In these negotiations the Union will act as one and preserve its interests. Our first priority will be to minimise the uncertainty caused by the decision of the United Kingdom for our citizens, businesses and member states.

European Council, 29 March 2017

21 March

President Tusk calls a European Council on Brexit for 29 April 2017

The special European Council, in an EU27 format, will adopt the guidelines for the Brexit talks. "We must do everything we can to make the process of divorce the least painful for the EU," said President Tusk.

President Tusk's call was made in response to the announcement by London of its intention to trigger Article 50 on 29 March 2017. 

2016

15 December

Negotiation procedure

Infographic - Brexit process

Infographic on the Brexit process

At their informal meeting in December 2016, the 27 leaders agreed on the following procedure for upcoming Brexit talks

  1. UK triggers Article 50 by notifying the European Council of its intention to leave.
  2. The EU 27 leaders adopt 'guidelines', including principles and general positions, for negotiations. They will update these guidelines in the course of the negotiations, as necessary.
  3. Following a recommendation by the Commission, the General Affairs Council authorises the opening of negotiations.
  4. The Council adopts negotiating directives on substance and on the detailed institutional arrangements. These may be amended and supplemented throughout the negotiations.
  5. The Council will appoint the Commission as the Union negotiator who will negotiate on behalf of the 27. The Commission nominated Michel Barnier as chief negotiator. It will report back to leaders and to the Council throughout the negotiation and will also keep the European Parliament "closely and regularly informed".
  6. The Council and its preparatory bodies will ensure that negotiations are conducted in line with guidelines provided by the EU 27. It will provide guidance to the Commission.

"We adopted the organisational structure with the European Council maintaining political control over the process, and the Commission as the Union's negotiator", said President Tusk after the meeting.   

15 December

Informal meeting of the 27 EU heads of state or government

The 27 leaders and Presidents of the European Council and Commission issued the statement, in which they declared they stand ready to start negotiations with the UK as soon as the UK has notified under Article 50

"We welcome the intention of the UK to do so before the end of March 2017, so that we can begin to tackle the uncertainties arising from the prospect of the UK's withdrawal," they said in the statement.

They also reiterated their commitment to principles agreed in June 2016, including:

  • no negotiations without notification   
  • balance of rights and obligations
  • no access to Europe's single market without acceptance of EU's four freedoms

29 November

Tusk responds to UK MP's concerns about status of EU and UK citizens

President Donald Tusk replied to UK MPs on their concerns regarding the status of EU citizens in the UK and UK citizens living and working in Europe. 

"In your letter you called on me 'to resolve this matter once and for all' at the European Council in December. This would in effect mean the start of the negotiations already in December. The EU stands ready to do so, but that can only happen on the condition that Art. 50 has been triggered. (...) the decision about triggering Art. 50 belongs only to the UK, which we fully respect."

"Just like you, I would like to avoid a situation where citizens become 'bargaining chips' in the negotiation process. In order for this not to happen, we will need precise and comprehensive solutions, which, other than nice-sounding expressions, will provide citizens with genuine guarantees of security."

13 October

'Hard Brexit' or 'no Brexit', says Tusk

"The only real alternative to a 'hard Brexit'  is 'no Brexit'. Even if today hardly anyone believes in such a possibility", said Donald Tusk, President of the European Council in his speech at the European Policy Centre in Brussels.

He said that the key task during the withdrawal negotiations will be to protect the interests of the EU and the interests of each of the 27 countries. He also stressed that access to Europe's single market requires acceptance of EU's four freedoms: people, goods, capital, and services.

2 October

UK to trigger Article 50 by end of March 2017

The UK will begin the formal withdrawal negotiation process by the end of March 2017, British Prime Minister Theresa May said on 2 October at the conference in Birmingham.

President Donald Tusk immediately welcomed the declaration. "It brings welcome clarity on start of Brexit talks. Once Art. 50's triggered, EU27 will engage to safeguard its interests," he tweeted.

8 September

Meeting with British Prime Minister Theresa May

Donald Tusk, President of the European Council, travelled to London to exchange views with British Prime Minister Theresa May. 

"I told Prime Minister May that I am convinced that it is in everyone's best interest that we start negotiations soon, to reduce and eventually end the uncertainty," he said after the meeting.

29 June

Informal meeting of the 27 EU heads of state or government 

"We are determined to remain united and work in the framework of the EU to deal with the challenges of the 21st century and find solutions in the interest of our nations and peoples," said the 27 leaders in their joint statement after the informal meeting on 29 June. They also called on the UK government to notify the European Council of its intention to withdraw from the EU as quickly as possible.

The 27 leaders will meet again in September 2016 to continue talks on the future of the EU. 

28 June

European Council, 28 June 2016

The European Council focused on the outcome of the UK referendum. Prime Minister David Cameron explained the situation in the UK after the referendum. It was followed by a first exchange of views. 

"Leaders understand that some time is now needed to allow the dust to settle in the UK. But they also expect the intentions of the UK government to be specified as soon as possible," said President Tusk at the press conference after the meeting. 

24 June

Joint statement by the EU leaders and the Netherlands Presidency on the outcome of the UK referendum

"In a free and democratic process, the British people have expressed their wish to leave the European Union. We regret this decision but respect it," said President Tusk, President Juncker, President Schulz and Netherlands Prime Minister Rutte in their joint statement.

"As agreed, the 'New Settlement for the United Kingdom within the European Union', reached at the European Council on 18-19 February 2016, will now not take effect and ceases to exist. There will be no renegotiation," they added. 

24 June

Press statement by President Donald Tusk on the outcome of the referendum in the UK

"We are prepared for this negative scenario. There will be no legal vacuum," said President Donald Tusk following the official results of the UK referendum.

23 June

UK referendum

On 23 June 2016 the UK citizens voted to leave the European Union. The vote followed intense negotiations of a deal which would strengthen Britain's special status in the EU.