With the United Kingdom now one year to Brexit, the Brussels negotiators mutter a bit to themselves.
They find the 12-month focus misleading for two main reasons:
- The time to negotiate a Brexit agreement is far less than a year, according to the European Commission. The EU's negotiator, Michel Barnier, said the talks would have to be completed by the late autumn of this year so that the European and British parliaments would have time to vote on an agreement.
- While the UK is officially – and legally – leaving the EU next March, it is likely to enter a so-called transitional or transposition period, when it will remain bound to the EU, with most aspects of membership, including deposits to be preserved EU budget. This phase will end in December 2020, when Brussels assumes that the United Kingdom really is really leaving the door.
Regarding a new trade agreement between the EU and the UK and other aspects of future relations, it is estimated how long this will take until all that come to a conclusion varies from months to years.
Why can not everything be done and dusted on Brexit Day on March 29, 2019?
Well, under EU law, Brussels can not conclude any new relations with the EU Britain
So, if everything goes according to the EU-UK plan, by March of next year they will have a completed withdrawal agreement covering the transitional period and the so-called divorce issues (the financial compensation paid by the UK; Rights for EU citizens living in the UK after Brexit and a concrete plan to avoid the reintroduction of a hard border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland).
This agreement will be a legal text, most of which have already been signed by both sides.
The main issues that persist (and they are not small) are the Irish border and the governance of the agreement, ie the role of the European Court of Justice.
More on Brexit: Another year  The EU and the UK state that they are working to solve unsolved problems.
Both sides really want a deal. Both political and economic and security interests are high.
In addition to the exit agreement, the EU and the UK are also working on a so-called "political statement" to determine the direction of their future relationship. As a statement rather than a legal text, EU law allows this to be negotiated before the Brexit Day.
The amount of detail in the declaration is currently being discussed among EU Member States.
For Theresa May, who takes a delicate balancing act to keep her Brexit-shared Cabinet and Country together, the less detail is the better.
At this stage of the negotiations (as I mentioned earlier on this blog), the EU unit will be in the Background, when the national interests of the different Member States come to the fore.
Expect disagreements, albeit not deep ditches – and observe that the EU is doing its best to prevent all disputes behind closed doors, as Denmark prioritizes fishing rights, Luxembourg financial services, Spain, Slovakia and the Czech Republic freedom of their citizens In the UK, Poland is in favor of a close EU-UK post-Brexit security relationship to strengthen the country against its volatile neighbor, Russia.
Speaking recently with the Polish Prime Minister about Brexit, I noticed how he used the word "compromise", which is not often heard in negotiations in Brussels.
A stark contrast to a conversation I had with France's Economics Minister when I sat down with him.
- Brexit: A Timeline 19659033] Where we are with Brexit – in 300 words
He said he wanted a fair Brexit, but also stressed that the EU had no intention of reducing its rules to Britain  "We have to protect ourselves" told me.
Great EU powers France and Germany are convinced that they are gaining more by protecting the EU and its domestic market for members than they could lose after Brexit by building less-close trade ties with Britain.
In this one-year countdown to Brexit, EU countries are confident.
The mood with British negotiators has improved a lot, and the EU also believes that it has the best cards.