People must not be pawns in Brexit negotiations - Muscat

British Prime Minister Theresa May triggers formal European Union divorce proceedings on Wednesday, launching two years of negotiations that will shape the future of Britain and Europe as well as London's place as a global financial center.

The six-page letter, signed in ink by the Prime Minister, was hand-delivered to Mr Tusk in his Brussels office by United Kingdom permanent representative Sir Tim Barrow at around 12.20pm just minutes before Mrs May made a statement to MPs on her plans.

Reacting to Britain's triggering of Article 50, Tusk said he has received a six-page letter to start the negotiations on Britain leaving the European Union and there is no reason to pretend this as a happy day in Brussels or in London.

The European Council president confirmed he would set out his draft negotiating guidelines on Friday, ahead of an extraordinary summit of the remaining 27 leaders on April 29 which is expected to pave the way for talks to begin in earnest in May.

The British government formally triggered the process of leaving the European Union this morning. Theresa May described this as a "historic moment from which there is no turning back". Key questions include whether they will be able to live, work and study in each other's countries and how freely goods and services can be transported between Britain and the EU.

Speaking at a press conference in Brussels, a downbeat president of the European Council told the people of the UK: "We already miss you".

May said she wants to deliver a smooth and orderly Brexit, adding that it is in the interests of both the United Kingdom and the European Union that there is as little disruption as possible.

Davis said Monday that Britain will "meet our worldwide obligations", but added: "I don't think we are going to be seeing that sort of money change hands".

Officials on both sides hope by 2019 either to have a deal, or an agreement to keep talking during a transitional period.

"We all want to see a Britain that is stronger than it is today".

PM Theresa May, who opposed Brexit in principle but headed the government during the political chaos after the referendum, now has two years to negotiate the exit terms.

Speaking hours after the trigger Merkel said Germany would work hard to ensure as little disruption as possible for people who have grown used to living, working and travelling seamlessly between the European Union and Britain.

The remaining 27 European Union states issued a statement saying the bloc "act as one" and defend its interests in Brexit negotiations.

Former U.K. Independence Party leader Nigel Farage, who campaigned for years to take Brexit from fringe cause to reality, said Britain had passed "the point of no return".

Other issues which are likely to be discussed are things like cross-border security arrangements, the European Arrest Warrant, moving EU agencies which have their headquarters in the United Kingdom and the UK's contribution to pensions of EU civil servants - part of a wider so-called "divorce bill" which some reports have suggested could run up to 50 billion pounds.

  • Arturo Norris