U.K. May Not Be Able to Exit EU for Five Years, Nordea CEO Says

The man running the Nordic region’s biggest bank says the European Union needs to brace itself for the possibility that it will take up to half a decade before Britain can extract itself from the bloc.

Speaking in an interview with Finnish broadcaster YLE TV1 on Saturday, Nordea Bank AB Chief Executive Officer Casper von Koskull said the Brexit process that has rocked the EU is still plagued by “a lot of uncertainties.”

Casper von Koskull
Casper von Koskull
Source: Nordea

“I think this came as a bit of a surprise for the Brits themselves,” von Koskull said. “Now it may well be that this will be a process that lasts three, four or five years.”

Because there’s still no clear roadmap for how to proceed, “it may be that the Brexit process will not be started until after two years,” he said. “And then it will take many years to finish.”

The disconnect between what the U.K. wants and what the EU is willing to give appears to be growing wider by the day. Britain’s goal of somehow limiting the free movement of labor without losing access to the single market looks increasingly far fetched. Tomas Prouza, the Czech state secretary for EU affairs, last week went as far as to call the U.K.’s current proposals “completely unrealistic.”

British Prime Minister Theresa May has said her government won’t trigger Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty this year, but also said the issue won’t be “kicked into the long grass.”

EU leaders are set to discuss Brexit again during a summit in Bratislava, Slovakia, on Sept. 16. It will be the first such event since the U.K. joined the bloc in 1973 at which the country won’t be represented.

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