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The Editors

A Cure for Brexit Paralysis

Talks between Britain and the EU should start quickly, then take as long as they need.
Once more, with feeling.
Photographer: Jasper Juinen/Bloomberg

The European Union says it wants clarity on whether U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May is serious in her pledge that “Brexit means Brexit.” That clarity would be good for Britain as well as the rest of Europe, and there’s a simple way to get it: Extend the two-year deadline triggered by formal notification of the decision to leave the bloc.

As things stand, Article 50 of the EU treaty allows for two years of negotiations once Britain has formally declared that it’s leaving. This isn’t long enough: Neither side is ready and there’s far too much to discuss. Britain is in no hurry to start the process -- the early part of next year is being discussed -- and it controls the timing. Yet European Council President Donald Tusk and European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker both insist that talks about Britain’s future relationship with the bloc cannot start until Article 50 is invoked.