What does it mean Article 50 being triggered?

For those of us that are unsure as to what it actually means for the UK when Article 50 is triggered the journey ahead of us is unclear due to no other European country having left before.  The Treaty of Lisbon is brief and it became law in December 2009.  It was designed to make the EU more democratic, more transparent and more efficient which is then signed by all the heads of state and governments of the countries within the EU.

“The House of Commons has voted overwhelmingly for us to get on with it. And the overwhelming majority of people – however, they voted – want us to get on with it too.” – Theresa May, January 2017

Many people believe that the process will take longer than expected although once the article is triggered the process has two years to be completed.  The two-year period can be changed but only if there is a unanimous consent of the European council so all members of state government would need to agree to extend the two-year period if required.

The trigger of Article 50 is like a divorce proceeding and is the formal process of the notification of the UK’s intention to leave the EU of which the clock then starts to tick.  The Treaties that govern membership are no longer applicable to the UK. Whatever is agreed during this two-year clock ticking can be and could well be a radical change for the UK and will be important for the UK economy as well as the British public.

Business leaders do want the easiest terms possible to prevent any economic harm and releasing Britain from the old membership is going to be the easy bit.  The harder bits will be the renegotiating of trading relationships and establish tariffs and barriers to entry and the agreements of obligations such as free movement.  This process could take up to 5 years to agree on a process.

At a Glance

  • 29th March 2017 Article 50 of the Treaty of Lisbon gives any EU member the right to quite unilaterally and outlines the procedure for doing so. There was no way to legally leave the EU before the Treaty was signed in 2007 and it will give the leaving of the country in question, two years to negotiate their exit deal.
  •  29th April EU summit of the 27 leaders (without the UK) to agree to give the European Commission a mandate to negotiate with the UK.
  • Once set in motion, it cannot be stopped unless all members of states unanimously consent.
  • Any deal must be approved by a qualified majority of EU member of states and can be vetoed by the European Parliament.
  • May 2017 European Commission to publish negotiating guidelines based on the mandate the EU leaders give it. The EU might say something about possible parallel negotiation on a future EU-UK trade deal.
  • May/June 2017 Negotiations begin.
  • 23rd April and 7th May French presidential elections.
  • 24th September German parliamentary elections.
  • Autumn 2017 The UK Government is expected to introduce legislation to leave the EU and put all existing EU Laws into British Law the Great Repeal Bill.
  • October 2018 Aim to complete negotiations
  • Between October 2018 and March 2019 The Houses of Parliament, European Council and European Parliament vote on any deal
  • March 2019 the UK formally withdraws from the European Union (The Article 50 negotiations could be extended, but this is subject to the approval of the other 27 EU member states).

Source: The Telegraph and BBC.co.uk