The triggering of Article 50 today means that formal exit talks between the UK and the remaining 27 members of the EU can commence.
It is hoped, rather than expected, that the UK will have a trade deal negotiated with the EU prior to exiting the union.
Over the coming months we can look out for the following:
1. Will we have a clearer insight into Britain’s negotiation?
It is not expected that Prime Minister May’s letter to formally trigger Article 50 will provide much detail in respect of the British negotiation, however crucial things to look out for are hints in respect of how much Britain is willing to pay to exit the EU.
Also will Britain wish to engage in negotiating a transitional deal to prevent the immediate introduction of trade barriers should a formal deal not be reached prior to Britain’s exit?
2. Or a better understanding of the EU’s negotiation stance?
EU leaders are expected to meet in April to discuss negotiation guidelines which the President of the European Council, Donald Tusk, has said he will provide within 48 hours of Article 50 being triggered.
High on Ireland’s agenda at the April meeting will be the issue around the Border with Northern Ireland and the ability of Irish people to live and work in the UK visa free (and vice versa).
3. What kind of market reaction can we expect?
Today’s event has been on the horizon since the referendum on Brexit, therefore a severe market reaction tomorrow is unlikely.
However, the performance of the sterling over the coming weeks and months will be of critical importance to Irish exporters, in particular the food and drink industry.
A continued fall in the value of sterling will have serious consequences for Irish exporters and the Irish economy.
4. What impact will this have on elections in Europe?
While Brexit did not appear to have much influence on the result of the Dutch general election in March, many believe that the expected battle between Le Pen and Macron in the French presidential election is a referendum on France’s future in Europe.
Le Pen has promised to hold a referendum on France withdrawing from the EU should she get elected, while Macron’s pro-Europe position has been a major feature of his campaign to-date.
Meanwhile in Germany, Brexit and the future of Europe is expected to feature strongly in September’s Federal Elections as Angela Merkel seeks a fourth term in office.
5. Will a hard border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland return?
There are concerns that once Britain leaves the EU a hard border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland will return.
Taoiseach Enda Kenny has warned the re-establishment of a hard border in the wake of Brexit could lead to an upsurge in criminality and even armed conflict.
"The Irish people didn't cause this problem; the challenge is not just psychological - it's also political," he said.
"I don't want to be alarmist about it but this is a political challenge here."
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