The United Kingdom must respect the wish of a majority of its citizens, entirely, fully and as soon as possible, by officially withdrawing from the EU before any new relationship arrangements can be made, says the European Parliament in a resolution voted after an extraordinary plenary debate on Tuesday. MEPs also stress the urgent need for reforms to ensure that the EU lives up to its citizens’ expectations.
After a debate between Parliament’s political group leaders, EU Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker and Dutch minister Jeanine Hennis-Plasschaert, representing the EU Council’s rotating presidency, Parliament voted a resolution on ways forward after the UK referendum on 23 June 2016. The text was approved by 395 to 200, with 71 abstentions.
Parliament calls upon the UK government to respect its people’s democratic decision via a swift and coherent implementation of the withdrawal procedure, i.e. by activating Article 50 of the Treaty on European Union so as to allow withdrawal negotiations to start as soon as possible. To prevent damaging uncertainty for everyone and to protect the Union’s integrity, the UK Prime Minister should notify the outcome of the referendum to the European Council, in order to launch the withdrawal procedure and negotiations as soon as possible, urge MEPs. MEPs recall that the European Parliament’s consent for the withdrawal agreement and any future relationship is required under the Treaties, and that it must be fully involved at all stages of the various procedures.
Cancelling the UK’s EU Council presidency in 2017
Parliament also calls on the Council to change the order of its presidencies to prevent the withdrawal process from jeopardizing the management of the day-to-day business of the Union. The UK was set to take on the presidency in the second half of 2017. Parliament will also change its internal organization to reflect UK citizens’ will to withdraw from the EU.
Future of the EU
The current challenges demand reform to make the Union “better and more democratic”, and to “deliver what citizens expect”, MEPs insist. “While some Member States may choose to integrate more slowly or to a lesser extent, the core of the EU must be reinforced and à la carte solutions should be avoided”, says the text.
Now that the UK has voted to leave the European Union, what happens next?
The European Commission takes note of the outcome of the UK Referendum. Proceedings under Article 50 of the Treaty on European Union will have to be launched. The terms of the UK Settlement agreed at the European Council of 18-19 February 2016 have ceased to exist.
During negotiations under Article 50, European Union Treaties and law continue to apply to the UK. If no agreement is reached within 2 years of the UK activating Article 50, the UK would leave the EU without any new agreement being in place.
What role will the Commission play in the Article 50 process?
The European Commission will play the role foreseen in the Treaty. Following notification by the UK of its intention to leave, the European Council, meeting without the UK, would need to agree the guidelines for the negotiation by unanimity. The agreement would be negotiated following the rules on international agreements in Article 218(3) of the Treaty. This means that the Commission would submit recommendations to the Council, minus the UK, which would then adopt a decision authorizing the opening of negotiations and nominating the Union negotiator or the head of the Union’s negotiating team. The negotiated agreement would need to be adopted by a qualified majority of 72% of the remaining 27 Member States, representing 65% of the population. The final agreement would also need to be approved by the European Parliament, voting by a simple majority.
Article 50 of the Treaty on European Union
1. Any Member State may decide to withdraw from the Union in accordance with its own constitutional requirements.
2. 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.
3. 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.
4. 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.
5. 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.