Article 50 – Key facts
Article 50 of the Treaty on European Union (TEU): This Article sets out, in broad terms, the process and timeline the UK and EU will need to adhere to in the negotiation of a withdrawal agreement. While reference to this Article has appeared in a number of press stories and briefings, of particular interest are the briefings prepared for the UK and European parliaments.
Moreover, with reference to Mrs May’s Lancaster House speech and Article 50 letter – and her stated aim of reaching an agreement on the future partnership between the UK and EU27 by the conclusion of the two-year Article 50 process – it is worth noting that Article 50.2 states that the arrangements for withdrawal shall take into account the withdrawing country’s future relationship with the Union – a fact that the European Council has acknowledged in their draft guidelines and reflected in their proposal for a phased negotiation.
Article 50 is reproduced below:
- Any Member State may decide to withdraw from the Union in accordance with its own constitutional requirements.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- If a State which has withdrawn from the Union asks to rejoin, its request shall be subject to the procedure referred to in Article 49.
Article 238.3 Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU): Article 238.3 TFEU, which is cross referenced in Article 50 TEU, is reproduced below:
- As from 1 November 2014 and subject to the provisions laid down in the Protocol on transitional provisions, in cases where, under the Treaties, not all the members of the Council participate in voting, a qualified majority shall be defined as follows:
(a) A qualified majority shall be defined as at least 55% of the members of the Council representing the participating Member States, comprising at least 65% of the population of these States.
A blocking minority must include at least the minimum number of Council members representing more than 35% of the population of the participating Member States, plus one member, failing which the qualified majority shall be deemed attained.
(b) By way of derogation from point (a), where the Council does not act on a proposal from the Commission or from the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, the qualified majority shall be defined as at least 72% of the members of the Council representing the participating Member States, comprising at least 65% of the population of these States.
The largest EU states by population: Outside of the UK, the five largest EU member states by population are: Germany, France, Italy, Spain and Poland followed by Romania, the Netherlands, Belgium, Greece, the Czech Republic, Portugal, Hungary, Sweden, Austria, Finland, Slovakia, Ireland, Croatia, Lithuania, Slovenia, Latvia, Estonia, Cyprus, Luxembourg and Malta.
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