United Kingdom’s withdrawal from the European Union

On 29 March 2017, Theresa May, the British Prime Minister, sent a letter to Donald Tusk, the President of the European Council, notifying the Council of the United Kingdom’s intention to withdraw from the European Union, in accordance with Article 50 of the Treaty on European Union (TEU). Ms May thus gave effect to the British people’s choice in the referendum on 23 June 2016 to end the United Kingdom’s membership of the European Union.

Until the United Kingdom actually leaves the European Union, European Union law will continue to apply in full under the terms of the treaties ratified by the UK.

Initiating the negotiations

Since the Treaty of Lisbon, Article 50 of the Treaty on European Union allows a Member State to withdraw unilaterally from the EU.

Step 1: The Member State must notify the European Council of its decision to withdraw.**

Theresa May, the British Prime Minister, sent a letter to Donald Tusk, the President of the European Council, on 29 March notifying the Council of the United Kingdom’s intention to withdraw from the European Union.

Step 2: Heads of State or Government of the 27 Member States will meet to adopt guidelines that will set out the European Union’s negotiating principles**

during a Special European Council meeting on 29 April 2017.

Step 3: The European Council will subsequently adopt a decision authorising the opening of negotiations**

It will also adopt negotiation directives, and will designate the Commission as the Union negotiator.

The negotiations

Negotiations will begin between the European Union and the United Kingdom in order to reach an agreement setting forth the conditions for the UK’s withdrawal.

Special provisions have been introduced to ensure that each of the EU institutions fully plays a role. In particular, it is expected that the Union’s Chief Negotiator (Michel Barnier) will report systematically to the European Commission, the Council and its preparatory bodies. The European Parliament will be kept regularly and closely informed of progress in the negotiations.

The withdrawal agreement must be approved by the European Council acting by qualified majority after receiving the assent of the European Parliament.

If no agreement is reached after two years, the treaties shall cease to apply to the United Kingdom, unless the European Council decides to extend that period (voting unanimously and in agreement with the British Government).

If a State that has withdrawn asks to rejoin, its request shall be subject to the same accession procedure as any other candidate country, not a simplified procedure.

What project for the European Union without the United Kingdom ?

The main challenge now is to give fresh impetus to the European Union.

The EU has achieved tangible results in recent years, in several areas which respond to the aspirations and concerns of its citizens: combating terroristic and security threats; restoring sustainable, long-term growth that benefits everyone; building a social Europe that delivers progress and equity; and defending the EU’s values and standards, particularly on trade, globally.

The process of renewing European integration is now underway. Having adopted the Bratislava Roadmap last September, which has already enabled us to move forward in several areas, on the 60th anniversary of the Treaty of Rome on 25 March, the Heads of State or Government of the 27 Member States adopted a declaration that reaffirms the unshakeable unity of the 27 and reinvigorates the European project for the next ten years.

Dernière modification : 13/04/2017

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