Article 50 – Lisbon Treaty
Article 50 of the European Union Treaty or the Lisbon treaty governs the withdrawal of any European Union member from the union. The article reads as follows:
“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 If a State which has withdrawn from the Union asks to re-join, its request shall be subject to the procedure referred to in Article 49.”
Three things can be concluded from the above:
a. This article has to be invoked by the concerned member or state and cannot be invoked by the European Union. This is perhaps clear from the language of 50(1). Hence even when Britons have voted to exit EU, to a great extent it depends on the government that it may invoke the above article. This cannot be invoked by another member or the European Union commission or any other interested party.
b. Negotiations over the two years, ones the article has been invoked, shall be will determine future relations between the country in question and the EU. This still remains a large ground for a modified form of relationship and considering the fact that this article has never been invoked before, current invocation will impact the future instances of invocation of this article to a great extent.
c. If UK decides to re-join the Union after article 50 has been invoked, it will have to do so from scratch, as per Article 49, for there is no provision to withdraw invocation of article 50.