Brexit: What is Article 50 and what happens next?

A copy of the Brexit Article 50 Bill which was approved by parliament on Monday, giving the Prime Minister the power to start the process to leave the 28-nation bloc.
A copy of the Brexit Article 50 Bill which was approved by parliament on Monday, giving the Prime Minister the power to start the process to leave the 28-nation bloc. PHOTO: REUTERS

British Prime Minister Theresa May has secured Parliament's approval to begin the process to leave the European Union (EU). She will trigger Article 50 on Wednesday (March 29) to start two years of negotiations. Here's a look at what it means and the likely key dates in the process.

What is Article 50?

Article 50 is the part of the EU treaty that lays down the procedure for a member to leave the 28-nation bloc. It was drafted under the Treaty of Lisbon, which was meant to streamline the bloc's decision-making.

What does it say?

The article is pretty short, with just five paragraphs. It states that any EU member state may decide to quit the EU, that it must notify the European Council and negotiate its withdrawal with the EU, that there are two years to reach an agreement - unless everyone agrees to extend it - and that the exiting state cannot take part in EU internal discussions about its departure.

It says any exit deal must be approved by a "qualified majority" (72 per cent of the remaining 27 EU states, representing 65 per cent of the population) but must also get the backing of Members of the European Parliament (MEPs).

The fifth paragraph raises the possibility of a state wanting to rejoin the EU having left it - that will be considered under Article 49.

It was written by the Scottish cross-bench peer Lord Kerr of Kinlochard. He has said he thought it would be most likely used in the event of a coup in a member state and had never imagined it being used for Brexit.

Legal challenge?

A legal challenge has been submitted to the High Court in Dublin arguing that Britain can reverse the Article 50 trigger. The claimants hope that a decision to refer the case to the European Court of Justice will be given in April.

What happens after Article 50 is triggered

APRIL 29

The EU27 have pencilled in a summit to agree to the guidelines for the EU executive negotiating team led by chief EU negotiator Michel Barnier. 

SOURCES: REUTERS, BBC, NYTIMES

 

Note: This article was first published on March 14 and has been updated.