The UK Government would notify the European Union that the UK has decided after an appropriate public referendum to withdraw as an EU member, and to do so under Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty (TFEU – The Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union). The UK would then commence negotiations on a new relationship with the EU. This could be based around the EEA Lite model. The UK would notify the EFTA Council of its intention to apply to rejoin EFTA.
Article 50 stipulates that ‘any Member State may decide to withdraw from the Union in accordance with its own constitutional requirements’. The UK would notify the European Council of its intention to withdraw. In the light of 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.’ This is called ‘an UK-EU withdrawal agreement’ here.
This suggests a deep and comprehensive trade, economic and political agreement of substantial benefit to both parties, particularly securing the EU continued access to the UK as its largest market from the other EU-27 nations. The EEA Lite model would qualify as such an UK-EU withdrawal agreement, provide a familiar framework, and ensure tariff-free trading between the UK and the EU. Alternatively a free trade agreement relating to the EU’s Common Commercial Policy (Article 207 TFEU) and a political agreement could be negotiated separately, with the trade agreement being similar in many terms to the EEA Agreement trade terms, and requiring Council unanimity. Both parties will be keen to reach agreement so as to minimise any disruption to political or commercial ties.
This(/these) agreement(s) should be negotiated in accordance with Article 218(3) of the Treaty of the Functioning of the European Union. This article empowers the EU Commission or High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy / European External Action Service (EEAS) to negotiate International Agreements, where the agreement relates exclusively or principally to the Common Foreign and Security Policy. If the withdrawal agreement is more of a trade agreement, this may be handled, as all FTAs are, by the EU Trade Commissioner. The existing (regular) EEA Agreement has now been passed to the European External Action Service to handle relations with EFTA countries on the part of the EU.
The article goes on to say that the negotiating body such as the Commission shall submit recommendations to the European Council, which ‘shall adopt a decision authorising the opening of negotiations and, depending on the subject of the agreement envisaged, nominating the Union negotiator or the head of the Union’s negotiating team.’
Lisbon’s Article 50 states that the agreement ‘shall be concluded on behalf of the Union by the Council, acting by a qualified majority, after obtaining the consent of the European Parliament.’ Legal experts in EU Law suggest that any legal constriction on a member state leaving would be token as a member state not receiving such consent would simply withdraw in any case under its own constitutional arrangements and revert to internationally agreed World Trade Organisation tariff-reducing rules ( such as a Most Favoured Nation basis at worst).
In short, a departing member state will not need the EU’s ‘permission’ to leave though the other EU-27 might in theory seek to bring pressure through a withdrawal agreement. However, the bald reality remains that the other EU-27 needs its largest customer, the UK, more than the UK needs the EU: if 3 million UK jobs depend on trade with the EU, 4 million plus EU-27 jobs depend on trade with the UK: the question would be: ‘would the EU-27 cut off their nose to spite their face?’.
In the UK, the UK Government would announce an immediate halt in the transposing and implementation of new EU Directives and have the power to enact or to suspend the enforcement of new EU Regulations, as appropriate. For example, new regulations with a safety aspect might be continued, and be reformed or repealed later in due course. The Government would also start the drafting of an ECA Repeal Bill. The UK financial contributions to the EU would continue for the moment.
from "Time to Jump" by David Campbell Bannerman MEP
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