Brexit: Article 50 and the process of leaving EU

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The result of the Brexit Referendum has been declared, absorbed and accepted. While the rest of the world is speculating the economic and political ramifications of the Brexit, anti-Brexit campaigners still have a last straw to cling to-Article-50 of the Treaty of Lisbon.

Essentially, the formal mechanism of exiting the European Union, Article 50 should now be used judicially (as urged by the outgoing PM David Cameron). The outcome was unexpected for EU too as none of its 28 members left considered leaving the union before.

Exit on Brexit

Pressed into action, the decision making bodies have a lot of work to do, things to consider and accept or reject the proposal. Indeed, a number of things are at stake.

A divided state

While the rules are simple, the anti-Brexit entities are pulling strings for buy some more time to reconsider the country's decision. Jean-Claude Juncker of the Commission puts it simply. "Out is out," he said after the results were declared, almost taking an offence at the self-destructive deal that was struck after a year of negotiation.

He justifies saying, "Exit should be smooth. Leaders do not want to be drawn into months and years of haggling over Britain's status."

[Read: The Great #Brexit: Analysing immigration before and after]

On the contrary, the pro-Brexit agents have said that there is no need to trigger Article 50 until informal negotiations have taken place, which can even last for a year. Now, that will put a lot of factors at stake, say for instance, the migration status, the status of the immigrants in the UK, he current deployment of naval craft off Libya to intercept smugglers and many more.

The mechanics of Article 50

Article 50 is basically an intimation or a proposal to withdraw and triggering that starts a 2-year clock running. After this time frame, the Treaties that govern membership no longer apply to Britain. The terms of exit will be negotiated between Britain's 27 counterparts and each will have a veto over each of the conditions.

The process is at a very nascent stage and the process can be obstructed by any of the national parliaments. Meanwhile, two big negotiating teams will be formed and the EU side is likely to be headed by one of the current commissioners.

[Read: Will Brexit impact intelligence sharing with EU?]

While dissociating Britain from EU is the easier part, the ramification thereafter is tedious. Establishing new trading relationship, establishing renewed tariffs and other, free movement and migration policies have to be redefined. The entire process could take five more years.

Here too, there has to be a point of negotiation as Business leaders want the easiest way out possible so that the economy is not harmed, but political leaders say that the conditions have to be brutal so that the other countries do not follow suit.

What are the EU terms of an exit?

As stated in the Treaty, a member exiting will have to follow the following rules:

1. Any Member State may decide to withdraw from the Union in accordance with its own constitutional requirements.

2. A Member State which decides to withdraw shall notify the European Council of its intention. In the light of the guidelines provided by the European Council, the Union shall negotiate and conclude an agreement with that State, setting out the arrangements for its withdrawal, taking account of the framework for its future relationship with the Union. That agreement shall be negotiated in accordance with Article 218(3) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union. It shall be concluded on behalf of the Union by the Council, acting by a qualified majority, after obtaining the consent of the European Parliament.

[Read: After UK exits EU, will we see pro-remain Scotland exiting UK? ]

3. The Treaties shall cease to apply to the State in question from the date of entry into force of the withdrawal agreement or, failing that, two years after the notification referred to in paragraph 2, unless the European Council, in agreement with the Member State concerned, unanimously decides to extend this period.

4. For the purposes of paragraphs 2 and 3, the member of the European Council or of the Council representing the withdrawing Member State shall not participate in the discussions of the European Council or Council or in decisions concerning it. A qualified majority shall be defined in accordance with Article 238(3)(b) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union.

5. If a State which has withdrawn from the Union asks to rejoin, its request shall be subject to the procedure referred to in Article 49."

Advantages and disadvantages of Article 50

The Triggering of Article 50 has many positive and negative ramifications. 


1. Although it guarantees negotiations with the EU, it does not necessitate the approval of the others for exit
2. Striking a new agreement would not require unanimity among the other member states, unlike an EU treaty change, which does. However, a complex mixed agreement would require ratification in every EU member state.

[Read: How will Brexit impact UK?]


1. Once you have decided to leave, there is no turning back
2. There would not be any UK vote of withdrawal agreement. EU will have the final say
3. Without the UK vote on withdrawal agreement, the remainder EU members will have a protectionist attitude, which could affect UK's trade terms.
4. European Parliament veto over a continuity deal or future free trade deal.
5. EU is in charge of the negotiating timetable.

Hard times ahead

Scrapping EU legislation is one thing, while functioning without it is another. The new British government will be very busy for about a decade now to re-establish everything in a new way, massive trade and economic reforms would be required and master trade deals with various countries have to be struck so that less damage is done.

EU too has a major overhauling to do. For instance, the Proposals for closer defence integration, prepared by Federica Mogherini, the EU's High Representative for Foreign Affairs, has been put on hold. It was likely to be sent to the national governments today.

[Read: Brexit: Will David Cameron be the Mikhail Gorbachev of UK?]

Incidentally, the relationship between Britain and EU has reached a hard roadblock. When Britain sets an example for other countries who have been thinking of an EU exit, but have not been able to implement it, the European Union is trying hard to integrate the bloc and ensure that there are no other exits.

Certainly, it will negotiate hard to bring Britain under its flagship again, but the problems are glaring and there seem to be no recourse. Article 50 or no, the decision of the people is full and final.

[Read: Brexit forecast pulls down key Indian equity indices sharply]

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