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>> European leaders have been pressing Britain to trigger divorce proceedings with the EU. But behind the scenes German officials are very worried that once they do so, the timeline for negotiating a Brexit will be impossibly short. I'm Noah Barkin, Europe correspondent for Reuters in Berlin. We've been talking to senior officials in Berlin and Brussels who are deeply concerned about the tight timeline for the Brexit negotiations.
One official I talked to called it mission impossible. The problem is that the EU Treaty sets a two year deadline for negotiations on leaving the EU once Article 50 of the EU Treaty has been triggered. The only way to extend those two years is for all 28 EU member states to agree to extend and no one says they can count on that.
Two years might sound like a lot of time for these talks, but talks with Greenland on leaving the EU took three years and those talks were almost exclusively focused on fishing rights. Negotiations with Britain would be much more complicated than that. A further complication is that in 2017, we have a host of elections in Europe.
Germany, France and the Netherlands will all be voting. In Spain, we have political limbo after two inconclusive elections, that could drag into 2017, as well. And, in Italy, Prime Minister Mateo Renzi has promised to resign if he loses a referendum on constitutional reform, which is scheduled for the autumn.
So, next year could be a year when a lot of governments in Europe are focused on their domestic political situation. That doesn't bode well for the Brexit talks either.