by Tom Morton Jun 24th, 2016
We have had the discussion, made our decisions and cast our votes. Britain will be leaving the EU.
But how will it work?
Historically speaking, no other member state has ever chosen to leave making this fresh territory not just for the UK but Europe as well. However, a framework for exit does exist.
What is the framework?
The process is outlined under Article 50 of the Treaty on the European Union. This states that any member country may decide to withdraw from the EU “in accordance with its own constitutional requirements”. In our case, we will now rely on parliament honouring our decision in the referendum. Although under law the referendum is not binding, it would be difficult for them to disregard this result.
How will this work?
Article 50 must first be triggered by the government. David Cameron will attend a European Council summit next week yet there is no confirmation that he will trigger the exit-clause immediately. Politicians will no doubt haggle over when exactly is best to invoke this Article in the coming days and weeks but once triggered the process will involve several steps over a 2 year period:
First, the European Council—without the UK—would agree guidelines for negotiations.
Using those guidelines, the European Commission would negotiate an agreement on behalf of the EU.
The agreement would need to be approved by the UK and 20 of the 27 remaining member states, representing 65% of those states’ population.
The European Parliament would also need to approve the deal by a simple majority.
Is this the only way?
Not exactly, but it is the most likely path to Brexit. Alternatively, parliament could simply repeal the European Communities Act 1972. However, this would be a breach of the UK’s treaty obligations under international law. And it would presumably make it more difficult for the UK to strike a decent trade agreement with the EU after withdrawal.
So, deal or no deal, 24 months from now – unless everyone agrees to an extension – we are out.
What comes next?
It is too soon to judge exactly how our relationship with Europe will look following our exit from the EU. But, one thing is for sure, people-power will be fundamental in building Britain’s future.
What do you want to happen next? Leave a comment below to have your say.