With the UK vote to leave Europe, the government of the day would launch the formal process by invoking Article 50 of the consolidated version of the Treaty on European Union. Peter Crosskey already made some observations about Brexit, agri-food and Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty in his article in May. In the light of current events, this is a re-post of his explanations on Article 50.
Paragraph one reads: “1. Any Member State may decide to withdraw from the Union in accordance with its own constitutional requirements.” From a Brexiteer’s viewpoint, so far, so good.
Paragraphs two and three set out the mechanisms and timetable by which such a withdrawal would be decided. Here is a key passage from paragraph two: “…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.”
Paragraph four is a game changer that destroys any semblance of the UK’s self-determination in this process:
“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.”
Once paragraph four is taken into account, there is
no only a curtailed role for the UK government to play in discussing the terms of the settlement that will be negotiated by the 27 remaining members of the European Union. Within a two-year window the UK will have to accept whatever is handed down by the remaining member states, which will take into account: “…the framework for its future relationship with the Union.”
This is neither a new nor an original interpretation of Article 50:
- Alan Renwick of University College London’s Constitution Unit covers article 50 in some detail;
- Dr Giacomo Benedetto of the Centre for European Politics discussed Article 50 on January 3, 2016;
- Agata Gostyńska-Jakubowska of the Centre for European Reform wrote about the Seven Blunders: Why Brexit would be harder than Brexiters think on April 28 and
- December 2015, Bronwen Maddox described Article 50 as “an EU referendum horror” in Prospect Magazine.
Paragraph four of Article 50 deserves to be heard more clearly and by a wider public.