The official date for triggering Article 50 has been set for Wednesday 29 March.

Downing Street has said UK prime minister Theresa May will announce the start of the formal process for Britain to leave the EU at the end of March.

Brexit secretary, David Davis, has confirmed the events saying, it will be “the most important negotiation for this country in a generation.”

What happens on 29 March?

For May to formally trigger Article 50, she will have to send a letter to the European Union (EU) to announce the intentions.

This means that the UK will officially cease to be a member of the EU in exactly two years on 29 March 2019.

Donald Tusk, EU council president has said the EU will issue a formal response and broad guidelines within 48 hours.

What happens during the two-year period?

The UK will spend its time negotiating with the EU over the official Brexit. It is thought this is an unrealistic time period yet according to Article 50, this needs to be tied up before the end of the two years.

During this time the UK will still be bound by EU laws and regulations. As well, it will have near-full membership rights and must honour its financial and other commitments as a member.

What will happen to EU laws in the UK?

Several aspects of EU law make up legislation in the UK. As a result, it is thought around 10 to 15 new bills and thousands of pages of secondary legislation are needed before the Article 50 process is complete.

The Institute of Government (IFG) published an 18-page report today examining the “huge burden” Brexit places on lawmakers and government departments.

Hannah White, IFG’s director of research, said in a statement:

“The legislation required for Brexit will leave little parliamentary time for anything else — and making a success of it will require a large volume of bills and secondary legislation to be passed by Parliament against a hard deadline.”

This is what the IFG says needs doing before the UK leaves the EU

  1. Repeal the European Communities Act 1972 (ECA)
  2. Make provisions to transfer into UK law any EU regulations which currently have direct effect in UK law, so they continue to have an effect once the ECA has been repealed
  3. Make provisions for secondary legislation made under the ECA
  4. Make provisions to clarify how transposed laws relying on or referring to EU institutions and mechanisms will operate
  5. Make changes to existing primary and secondary legislation to ensure it is still ‘operable’ after the UK leaves the EU
  6. Give statutory powers to minister to make changes to primary and secondary legislation to ensure operability without the need for primary legislation
  7. New primary legislation to establish new policies in areas which were previously under EU competence – such as new customs and immigration systems
  8. Make provisions to clarify the status courts should accord to previous and future rulings of the European Court of Justice and of the guidance often used to interpret European law

The government says it will aim to do this through the Great Repeal Bill as well as primary and secondary legislation. But it’s not going to be easy within such tight time constraints.