EU Article 50

Brexit backlash has continued to build in various forms. There has been a growing chorus of calls for Britain to hold another referendum, or to opt not to invoke Article 50 and instead push for fresh concessions.

Article 50 refers to five short paragraphs of the Lisbon Treaty, which was signed in 2007 and updated past agreements including the Maastricht Treaty in 1993 and the Treaty of Rome in 1958.  You can find Article 50 by clicking here.

The article, which is less than 250 words, sets forth how a European member might voluntarily leave the EU.

As I read it – and I’m obviously no scholar on the subject – it simply says that the departing country has to notify the EU, negotiate a withdrawal and establish how the country will work with the EU after the exit.

Overall, Article 50 seems vague to me, but it’s clear that once Article 50 is invoked, the EU and departing country have two years to come up with new arrangements.

It seems funny that the referendum wouldn’t serve as a notification, but I suppose it has to be more official since the referendum itself wasn’t legally binding (which also seems funny).

At this point, the British government is trying to figure out how and when to invoke article 50 and there doesn’t seem to be much agreement, except to say that the leadership on both sides doesn’t want to rush into anything and start the two-year countdown.

EU leaders, meanwhile, have remained firm in their position that no negotiations can take place until Britain invokes Article 50, with the European Council establishing guidelines.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel warned today that the UK cannot “cherry pick” in its negotiations to exit the EU, emphasizing that countries wanting access to the single market must accept all of the rules, including the much-hated immigration and migration rules.

Judging from the 250 word treaty, it would appear that EU members either didn’t really consider a voluntary withdrawal, or it was too contentious to deal with back in 2007 – when no one was considering leaving.