Amer Kurtović, a Master student at the Department, chronologizes the British exit from the European Union, colloquially known as Brexit, with an explanation of the political and legal processes that led to the UK’s triggering of Article 50 of the Treaty of the European Union and an overview of the agreements between the United Kingdom and the European Union.
As a part of his Conservative Party’s electoral manifesto, David Cameron promised to hold a referendum by 2017 on whether the United Kingdom would remain in or leave the European Union. He, after winning a majority in the Parliament and being elected prime minister, kept his campaign promise and a referendum was held in June 2016.
In the referendum, based on a turnout of 72.2% of the total electorate of 46.5 million, 52% or 17.5 million voted to leave and 48% or 16 million voted to remain in the European Union. David Cameron resigned the premiership shortly following the referendum (he had supported the loosing side) and Theresa May was elected prime minister of the United Kingdom.
Nine months after the referendum and following a court ruling that required Parliament to officially activate the process of leaving the European Union, the United Kingdom officially activatedArticle 50 of the Treaty of the European Union and the two-year period during which the two parties had to agree on an exit agreement began.
The negotiations were divided into three phases: the withdrawal agreement, transitional arrangements, and future trade relations between the EU and the UK. The first phase dealt with EU citizens in the UK and UK citizens in the EU, outstanding financial obligations, and the land border; the second phase dealt with the transitional period following Brexit Day; and the third phrase dealt with the conditions of a potential free trade agreement and the UK’s continued membership in certain aspects of the EU, such as the customs area.
Although a withdrawal agreement isn’t yet final, since it hasn’t been ratified by a single parliament, certain major aspects are clear:
- · there will be a 21-month transition period until the end of 2020 while the United Kingdom will remain in the customs union but will be able to negotiate other trade agreements independently of the European Union;
- · there will be no ‘hard’ border with physical infrastructure between Ireland and the United Kingdom and a permanent arrangement is expected to be reached by the end of 2021;
- · EU citizens in the UK and UK citizens in the EU will be able to remain under the same conditions as when they entered;
- · the United Kingdom will transpose all EU law into British common law and will repeal parts of it over the coming period; and
- · the European Court of Justice shall continue having jurisdiction as it currently does until the end of the transition period, when jurisdiction will be divided between British domestic courts and EU courts.
Now, the British Parliament and the EU’s member-states’ parliaments have around four months to debate and ratify the agreement; otherwise, Brexit will be the hardest imaginable Brexit – a no deal Brexit.
About Amer Kurtović: Amer Kurtović hold a Bachelor’s degree in International Relations and European Studies from International Burch University and is currently working toward a Master’s degree in EU integration. His primary research interests include the European Union, the Western Balkans, and discourse theory and analysis while his secondary research interests include the Middle East and political Islam.