What exactly is Article 50, how does it work and how does the ECJ’s ruling affect things?
Read on to find out, as Prime Minister Theresa May faces a vote of no confidence in her leadership, raising questions about whether Article 50 would have to be extended or rescinded, delaying or even halting Brexit.
What exactly is Article 50?
Article 50 of the Treaty of Lisbon gives any EU member state the right to quit unilaterally and outlines the procedure for doing so. It gives the leaving country two years to negotiate an exit deal. When the UK triggered Article 50, it was thought that once in motion it couldn’t be stopped except by unanimous consent of all member states. The ECJ’s ruling changes that completely.
No country has ever left the EU before, and there was no way to legally leave the EU before the Treaty of Lisbon was signed in 2007.
The Lisbon Treaty, which became law in December 2009, is designed to make the EU “more democratic, more transparent and more efficient” and is an agreement signed by the heads of state and governments of countries that are EU members.
Prime Minister Theresa May triggered Article 50 shortly before 12:30pm on March 29 2017. That moment marked the beginning of a two year battle to thrash out a deal for leaving the EU, a process that proved to be lengthy and complicated. The UK and the EU only came to a deal on the Withdrawal Agreement, but not their future relationship, in November.