Sunday, 14 November 2010


Thanks to Obiter J (see his excellent blog here - I have discovered article 50 of the Treaty of EU which was introduced by the Lisbon Treaty and which provides a mechanism by which a member state may withdraw from the Union.  Therefore I was wrong to suggest that a new treaty would be necessary for the UK to leave the EU - instead agreement would be necessary pursuant to article 50(2):

Article 50

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 If a State which has withdrawn from the Union asks to rejoin, its request shall be subject to the procedure referred to in Article 49.

1 comment:

  1. Many thanks for your acknowledgment. The law of the EU is exceptionally complex and I do not claim to be a specialist in any way. Nevertheless, it has always interested me and, broadly speaking, I support our membership. The Lisbon Treaty inserted the "withdrawal clause" which had not appeared in any previous treaties even though, as far as I can tell, it was always accepted that a country could withdraw.

    There is no doubt that the EU acknowledges that the Members States retain their individual sovereignty and many decisions made - e.g. under Art. 48(6) - already have to be ratified by member states under the respective constitutional arrangements. The European Union Bill seeks to alter the UK's constitutional arrangements for agreeing to these amendments. In principle, i think the Bill is a step in the right direction but I also think that Clause 18 is not needed and is there only to appease the "Euro-sceptics."

    Thanks again. Much appreciated.