So this is Brexit, will it be war?

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The European Union’s top official says he has received the letter from Britain, formally triggering two years of Brexit talks.

European Council President Donald Tusk tweeted that “after nine months the UK has delivered,” referring to the time since the outcome of Britain’s June 23 referendum to leave the EU.

Britain’s Parliament allowed Prime Minister Theresa May to file for divorce from the European Union. Now comes the hard part — the arguments, the lawyers, the squabbles over money.

WHAT IS THE EU AND WHY IS BRITAIN LEAVING?

The EU is a bloc of 28 nations sharing relatively open borders, a single market in goods and services and — for 19 nations — a single currency, the euro. Britain joined in 1973, but has long been a somewhat reluctant member, with a large contingent of eurosceptic politicians and journalists regularly railing against regulations imposed by EU headquarters in Brussels.

Former Prime Minister David Cameron offered voters a referendum on EU membership, and in June they voted by 52-48 percent to leave.

HOW DOES BRITAIN FILE FOR DIVORCE?

A bill passed by Parliament authorizes the British government to invoke Article 50 of the EU’s Lisbon Treaty, which says a member state may “notify the European Council of its intention” to leave the bloc.

Later this month, May is expected to send the notification in a letter to Council President Donald Tusk and then announce the news, probably to Parliament.

That sets a clock ticking: Article 50 says that two years from the moment of notification, “the Treaties shall cease to apply” and Britain will no longer be an EU member.

WHOSE MOVE IS IT NOW?

The timing of Article 50 was up to Britain. What happens next is up to the EU.

Tusk says that once EU officials get Britain’s notification, they will respond within 48 hours, offering draft negotiating guidelines for the 27 remaining member states to consider. Leaders of the 27 nations will then meet in April or May to finalize their negotiating platform.

“Then we meet and we start,” UK Brexit Secretary David Davis said Sunday. “And I guess the first meeting, bluntly, will be about how we do this? How many meetings, you know, who’s going to meet, who’s going to come.”

Substantial talks may have to wait until after France’s two-round April-May election for a new president. Another hiccup could be Germany’s September election, which will determine whether Chancellor Angela Merkel gets another term.

WHO CONDUCTS THE NEGOTIATIONS?

On the British side, Davis will take the lead, reporting to May. Britain’s ambassador to the EU, Tim Barrow, will also play a major role, and the Foreign Office will talk to individual member states to try to get them on its side.

On the EU side, it’s complicated. As Britain’s Institute for Government recently pointed out, “the UK is negotiating with 27 member states, not a unified bloc.”

French diplomat Michel Barnier is the chief negotiator for the European Commission, the bloc’s executive arm. He’ll receive direction from the Council, which represents the leaders of the member states.

The European Parliament also wants a say, and will have to approve the final deal between Britain and the bloc.

WHAT IS THE MOST PRESSING ISSUE?

Britain’s vote to leave the EU has meant uncertainty for 3 million EU citizens living in the UK, and 1 million Britons who reside in the 27 other nations of the bloc. Both sides agree that giving such citizens a guarantee that they will be able to stay where they are is a top priority.

WHAT WILL BE THE MAIN CONFLICTS?

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