I didn’t want to write about this.
I wanted to write a bit more about our splendid trip to Austria.
Then Article 50 came up, and I simply couldn’t let it go without writing a few things about it.
On the 29th March, 2017, Britain said goodbye to the European Union (EU).
It was not a happy day.
For months, I’ve been involved in debating, talking, TV, radio and newspaper interviews on why my home-country is leaving the EU. In fact, just a week before Article 50, I received an offer to go on German TV to discuss my hopes and fears for Brexit!
It’s not looking pretty.
All over Europe, British expats are rushing to start the process of double-nationality, or permanent residency.
In the UK, European expats are doing the same.
Luckily for me, I’ve been living in Germany for yonks, I’m married, I’m settled, I have a corporate job, and I speak German. And quite frankly, in these uncertain times, it doesn’t hurt to have double nationality….!
However, just to re-assure you, the British Ambassador for Germany – Ambassador Sir Sebastian Wood – on the status of UK citizens in Germany, categorically said that “there has been no change to the rights and status of EU nationals in the UK, and UK nationals in the EU.” You can see his video speech here.
After sixty (60) years of friendship, Brexit is the worse disaster that has happened to the EU since the beginning of World War 2!
Last June, my fellow British compatriots voted in a referendum on whether the UK should leave or stay in the EU.
The people voted to leave.
You know my opinion about this, but here’s a reminder:
It was quite upsetting and begins two years of wrangling, arguing, disputation, and down-right nastiness.
Brexit was triggered by a process known as Article 50.
WHAT IS ARTICLE 50 ALL ABOUT?
Well, Article 50 of the Treaty of Lisbon gives any EU member the right to quit unilaterally, and outlines the procedure for doing so.
It gives the leaving country two years to negotiate an exit deal and once it’s set in motion, it can’t be stopped except by the unanimous consent of all member states.
Once in the EU, there has never be a way, or a need, to legally leave the EU before the Treaty of Lisbon was signed in 2007.
WHEN DID THE UK JOIN THE EU?
The UK joined the European Economic Community (the forerunner of the EU), on January 1st, 1973.
WHAT IS THE EUROPEAN UNION?
The European Union – otherwise known as the EU – is an economic and political partnership involving twenty-eight (28) European countries!
The idea of fostering economic co-operation, began with the Second World War notion that countries that trade together, are more likely to avoid going to war with one another!
Since then, the EU has grown to become a “single market” allowing goods and people to move around, as if the member states were one country. The EU has its own currency – the euro – which is used by nineteen (19) of the member countries, its own parliament, and it’s own laws, rules and regulations. With a GDP of more than $18,000 billion, and a population of more than 500m, the EU is the largest economy in the world!
HAS ANY MEMBER STATE EVER LEFT THE EU?
No nation-state has ever left the EU before. Except for Greenland – an overseas territory of Denmark!
THE UK HAS LEFT THE EU. WOULD IT BE ABLE TO REJOIN IN THE FUTURE?
The UK would have to start from scratch with no rebate, and enter in to accession talks with the EU. And every member state would have to agree to the UK re-joining! However, the issue of UK demands which Britain had before, would no longer be put into consideration.
WHAT IS THE LISBON TREATY?
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.
WHEN WAS ARTICLE 50 TRIGGERED?
Prime Minister Theresa May triggered Article 50 shortly before 12:30pm on March 29 2017, giving Britain a final official date of leaving the EU of no later than April 2019!
WHAT ARE THE REAL DETAILS OF ARTICLE 50?
There are five elements to 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.
WHAT DOES THIS MEAN?
Article 50 means that for the next two (2) years, Britain must thrash out a deal for leaving the EU. It’s a process that’s likely to be lengthy, complicated, and painful for all, as any deal must be approved by a “qualified majority” of EU member states, and can be vetoed by the European Parliament.
WHAT IS BREXIT ALL ABOUT AGAIN?
Brexit is a shorthand way of referring to the British exit from the EU. It is a word that merges “Britain” and “Exit” thus creating “Brexit” similar to the term “Grexit,” which was used to refer to the possibility that Greece might leave the Eurozone.
WHAT IS A REFERENDUM?
A referendum is a vote in which anyone of voting age can take part, normally giving a “Yes” or “No” answer to a question. Whichever side gets more than half of all votes cast, is considered to have won.
Yes (leave), won!
WHY DID WE HAVE A BREXIT REFERENDUM IN THE FIRST PLACE?
David Cameron – the then British Prime Minister – promised to make this happen if he won the 2015 general election.
This act was in a response to the “European question in British politics,” reduced influence in European rules and regulations, and agitated calls from members of his own political party – the Conservatives – and the UK Independence Party (UKIP), who argued that Britain had not had a real say about issues since 1975, when it voted to stay in the EU, in a referendum at the time!
HOW LONG WILL BREXIT TAKE?
The official process of Brexit is supposed to take two years, but experts believe that it could take longer. The timescale can be extended, but only by the unanimous consent of the European Council, which technically means that every member state would have to agree.
The terms of exit will be negotiated between Britain’s 27 other counterparts, and each will have a veto over the conditions. Triggering Article 50 starts the clock. After this, the Treaties that govern membership no longer apply to Britain.
IS BREXIT REALLY GOING TO BE AN ISSUE FOR THE UNITED KINGDOM?
On paper, not at all.
In reality, it’s all very complicated.
The agreement of a new trade relationship, economic tariffs, and the issue of free movement is going to be a sore topic, and could take a process of up to five (5) years!
WHAT’S THE BIG DEAL ANYWAY?
Well the thing is, the EU is like a family and like all families, you have disagreements, and quarrels. What you don’t do is threaten to leave the family unit, and hope to live happily ever after. Or worse, have all your demands fulfilled.
The fact is, other family members, although they love each other, believe in tough love, and don’t want to encourage tantrums, otherwise, everyone else will be threatening to leave too!
In short, European leaders want the agreements and conditions to be effective and brutal, so that other member states are discouraged from following suit…!
WHAT’S THE NEXT STEP FOR THE UK?
Theresa May (the British Prime Minsiter) plans to transpose EU laws onto British statutes allowing the Government to analyse and reject whatever laws it sees fit.
To do this, the UK government would have to perform three acts simultaneously:
The Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union – David Davis – will be supervising the process.
ANY POSSIBLE FUTURE PROBLEMS AS A RESULT OF BREXIT?
AND WHAT ABOUT THE EU ITSELF?
The focus is on driving a hard bargain on the rights of European citizens in Britain, and likewise, British citizens in Europe, making negotiations with the UK that we can all live with whilst at the same time, keeping the EU together, making demands that still open markets for trade on friendly terms, and unity on security and military co-operation to fight terrorism and crime, whether the nation-state is part of the EU or not.
WHY I THINK BRITAIN SHOULD HAVE STAYED IN THE EU?
Britain is important. What we do or don’t do, matters.
Moreover, being a part of the EU gives Britain a boost in almost every way. We’re able to do business in the “single market,” we would be able to attract the best minds all over the world, who complement our economic prosperity, as well as our social future in the guise of helping to pay and provide for public services. To stay in the EU is to receive a big boost in reciprocal membership.
It’s simple really.
If we’re in the European Union, we have a say on what goes on within – economically, socially, and politically. We’ll be a secure part of one of the best clubs in the world – a 28-nation club – exclusively set up to protect and look out for each other.
At a time of extreme danger to our way of life, and an increase in terrorism, we need the EU.
Now that we’ve opt to leave the Union, as an island nation. We’re out. Alone.
And really isolated from the rest of the Continent.
Is anyone going to win?
This article isn’t sponsored and all opinions connected to Brexit & Article 50, are my very own!
Next week, I’ll be writing my last article about Austria!
In April & May, I’ll be visiting Croatia, Sweden & Finland!
From 07.03.17 – 09.03.17, our friends – the British musical and comedy duo – Carrington Brown – will be performing Germany’s premiere of Carrington-Brown feat. The Swonderful Orchestra: Comedy meets Classics at Tipi!
I’ll be there. Will you?
If you’re not in Berlin in April. Well then?
See you soon!
Watch this space!
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So what are you waiting for?
Thanks a million!