The UK formally announced its intention to withdraw from the EU on 29 March, signalling the start of lengthy negotiations between the UK and the EU to determine the terms of their new relationship. The European Parliament will play a key role in determining the outcome.
The UK government triggered the official process on 29 March by invoking article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty, which describes how the EU and the withdrawing state need to negotiate a withdrawal agreement to define the country’s future relationship with the EU. Any agreement would have to be approved by both the European Parliament and the Council. MEPs will vote on the Parliament's red lines during April's plenary session in Strasbourg.
Now that the UK has invoked article 50, the European Council - representing the national governments - will issue guidelines to serve as the basis for negotiations. Former commissioner Michel Barnier will lead negotiations on behalf of the EU, although the Council always clarify or update the guidelines. Negotiations could already start a few weeks from now.
The agreement on the future framework would set out to describe the conditions for cooperation on a variety of issues, ranging from defence, the fight against terrorism, the environment, research, education and so on. One of the key sections would be to agree the basis for future trade. It could also describe possible tariffs, product standards, and how to resolve disputes.
If there is no deal and there is no agreement on extending the deadline, then the UK automatically leaves the EU after the two-year period. In addition if no agreement is reached on trade relations, the country would have to trade with the EU under WTO rules.
Read the article explaining the process.