How realistic is the two-year period for negotiating a Brexit? And what does Article 50 of the EU Treaty say?

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Having touched upon the issue of Article 50 of the European Treaty and how it offers a two-year transitional period, I have, when speaking to a couple of media enquiries, emphasised that it is not this period that will be the most difficult for Expats living abroad, but what comes after the expiry of the transition period. The complexity of the Brexit is something that seems to have not been assessed particularly by those championing the advantages of leaving the EU.

A piece on the BBC website throws up a number of issues about the practical implementation of leaving the European Union in accordance with Article 50. I would question, in light of the very interconnected nature of the UK’s membership of the European Union, whether it is realistic to conclude the negotiations and agreement with the EU within the two year time frame – as set out in the second sentence of Article 50 (2) of the European Union Treaty.

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.

In the event that the two year period is not sufficient, following the notification – there is a possibility of the European Council granting an extension, but this requires a unanimous decision to take place – as Article 50 (3) states.

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.

The chances of getting the unanimous decision required is likely to be hampered considerably by the fact that the UK would not be represented at the discussions of the European Council or Council – as set out in Article 50 (4) – and I would imagine that the other Member States would not be charitable to the UK’s self-inflicted plight.

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.

Last but not least Article 50 (5) also makes it very clear that with regard to rejoining the EU there will be no special deal – the UK (or the remaining parts of the Union in the event that Scotland were to gain independence in the intervening period).

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.

All told – Article 50 throws up the uncertainties that a Brexit could cause as well as clarifying the position the UK would find itself in, if it wanted to rejoin the EU at a later point. All conducive evidence to suggest that we are better staying in rather than risking the uncertainty of a Brexit.

Author: mdgb

45 years old, came to Austria in 97/98 for nine months and then moved permanently in July 2000. At the time of starting this blog, I have been in Austria for more than half my lifetime.