Brexit and consequences

Local 13By Mariano Zunino

TODAY at some stage we will discover the intentions of the British people. The smart money suggest that the ‘Remain’ camp will win. But what are the consequences if the referendum vote in the UK is to leave the EU? Actually, from a legal point of view, nothing would happen.

European legislation does not provide for a referendum result to have any executive effect. In fact, this would have an advisory outcome rather than a mandatory one. In other words, it would be a political matter but not a legal one.

The UK government can either ignore the referendum result when it is revealed today (Friday), or consider it as a matter to be studied within the Parliament.

Eventually, David Cameron’s Tory party could even ask for another referendum if the Brexit supporters succeed.

What really matters in law is when and why the government of a EU member State invokes Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty.

Once the proceedings of this article begin, the “exit” (or Brexit in this case) becomes a legal matter. This process seems to be irrevocable after starting, which is the idea of the Treaty.

In summary, Article 50 states:

1. Any Member State may decide to withdraw from the EU in accordance with its own constitutional requirements.

2. A Member State which decides to withdraw shall notify the European Council of its intention. The EU will negotiate with the member State and conclude any agreement, setting out the arrangements for its withdrawal. The agreement is to be concluded by the Council after the consent of European Parliament.

3. The Treaties shall cease to apply to the State in question from the date of entry into force of the withdrawal agreement, or two years after the notification. The European Council, in agreement with the member State, can decide, unanimously, to extend this period.

According to the specialists, there are three points of interest in respect of an EU withdrawal by the UK:

Firstly, it is a matter for a member State’s “own constitutional requirements” as to how it decides to withdraw (referendum, parliament approval). So the way to do it is not regulated. In the UK it would be a parliamentary approval, although the matter is not fully clear.

Secondly, notification by the member state under Article 50 is the moment the formal process begins. It is then intended to be effected by negotiation and agreement. There is no express provision for a member State to withdraw from the process, or revoke the notification. Once the notification is granted, the State and the EU are stuck with it.

Thirdly, there is a two-year deadline, which is what gives real force to Article 50. After notification, the member state would be out in two years, unless this period were to be extended by unanimous agreement.

But a vote for Brexit will not determine the outcome. Whether Britain leaves the EU will depend on a political decision, to follow the provisions of Article 50.

So, irrespective of the referendum result, the UK will still be a member State of the EU the day after the vote.

Mariano Zunino Siri is a registered lawyer member of Tenerife Bar Association since 1991.

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Posted by on Jun 24 2016. Filed under Business & Finance, News Alert. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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