The process of withdrawing from the European Union Contents

Summary of Conclusions and Recommendations

The right to withdraw from the EU

1.If a Member State decides to withdraw from the EU, the process described in Article 50 is the only way of doing so consistent with EU and international law. (Paragraph 14)

2.There is nothing in Article 50 formally to prevent a Member State from reversing its decision to withdraw in the course of the withdrawal negotiations. The political consequences of such a change of mind would, though, be substantial. (Paragraph 15)

3.Withdrawal from the EU is final once the withdrawal agreement enters into force. Article 50 makes clear that if a State that has withdrawn from the EU seeks to rejoin, its request shall be subject to the same procedures as any other applicant State. (Paragraph 16)

4.We note that the European Council has stated explicitly that the changes to the terms of the UK’s membership of the EU, agreed in February 2016, will automatically fall in the event of a vote to leave on 23 June. (Paragraph 17)

The withdrawal process

5.EU Member States would retain significant control over the withdrawal negotiations, despite the Commission having responsibility for their conduct. (Paragraph 28)

6.The European Parliament’s right not to give its consent to the adoption of the withdrawal agreement would give it considerable influence. (Paragraph 29)

7.One of the most important aspects of the withdrawal negotiations would be determining the acquired rights of the two million or so UK citizens living in other Member States, and equally of EU citizens living in the UK. This would be a complex and daunting task. (Paragraph 30)

The negotiation of a future relationship

8.It is likely that an agreement on the UK’s future relationship with the EU would be negotiated in tandem with the withdrawal agreement. It would be in the interests of all parties to coordinate the negotiations closely. (Paragraph 38)

9.The Member States would retain significant control over the negotiations on a future relationship. We note the potential for groups of Member States vetoing certain elements of the agreement to secure better deals on others. This could mean, in effect, that nothing would be agreed until everything was agreed. (Paragraph 39)

10.The European Parliament would have the right to withhold giving consent to the adoption of the agreement on the new relationship, giving it considerable influence. (Paragraph 40)

The length of the negotiations

11.No firm prediction can be made as to how long the negotiations on withdrawal and a new relationship would take if the UK were to vote to leave the EU. It is clear, though, that they would take several years—trade deals between the EU and non-EU States have taken between four and nine years on average. (Paragraph 54)

12.It would be in the interests of the UK and its citizens, and in the interests of the remaining Member States and their citizens, to achieve a negotiated settlement. This would almost certainly necessitate extending the negotiating period beyond the two years provided for in Article 50. (Paragraph 55)

13.While it is possible that the European Council would agree to an extension, the requirement for unanimity means that such agreement cannot be guaranteed. (Paragraph 56)

14.Were no extension to be agreed, the UK would be likely to trade on World Trade Organization terms, placing tariffs on imports from the EU; the EU would place tariffs on imports from the UK; and the acquired rights of millions of individuals and companies would remain unresolved. (Paragraph 57)

The UK’s continuing participation in the EU

15.While the UK would remain a full member of the EU over the course of the withdrawal negotiations, its credibility as a member would be severely undermined. A policy of selective disengagement from some areas of EU policy might be necessary. (Paragraph 63)

16.The UK is scheduled to hold the presidency of the Council in the second half of 2017, but in the event of a vote to withdraw it would be disqualified, by virtue of Article 50, from chairing any Council meetings on the withdrawal negotiations—meetings that would no doubt form a significant part of the Council’s activities. Were the electorate to vote to withdraw from the EU, the Government should give immediate consideration to suggesting alternative arrangements for its presidency. (Paragraph 64)

The role of Parliament

17.Should the UK decide to withdraw from the EU, the UK Parliament should have enhanced oversight of the negotiations on the withdrawal and the new relationship, beyond existing ratification procedures. We will consider how best to achieve that, should the need arise. (Paragraph 72)

18.Domestic disentanglement from EU law would require a review of the entire corpus of EU law as it applies nationally and in the devolved nations. Such a review would take years to complete. (Paragraph 73)

19.The Government of the day might well wish to maintain a significant amount of EU law in force in national law, because it would be in the national interest to do so. (Paragraph 74)

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