In the wake of the referendum David Cameron called out for the 23rd June 2016, discussions are heated and charged with emotion. The Prime Minister of the UK evoked the possibility of a referendum in order to win national elections, and thus got the discussions of a possible Brexit going. Little did he know that this discussion would develop its own dynamic, and could possibly even cost his mandate, as recent polls suggest. While Cameron forcefully rejected this, his party and Britain are largely divided, and some former allies sense political opportunities. However, since most polls suggest there is no clear indication on whether Britain will vote to leave or to stay in the EU, it is worth looking at how a possible Brexit would affect the UK and the EU – economically and legally.
The Legality of a Brexit
It is not since the Treaty of Lisbon (signed in 2007, entered into force in 2009) that leaving the European Union is an actual legal possibility. Article 50 of the Treaty of the European Union (TEU) lays down the framework for a withdrawal from the EU, and its mechanics have been debated on academic blogs. Assuming that Britain would vote to withdraw from the EU on the June referendum, this will initiate a process, which can last up two two years, as a Withdrawal Treaty (WT) will have to be negotiated. Since the withdrawal from the EU is of unilateral matter, the WT does not need to be ratified by the other 27 Member States, nor does it need a common accord in the Council, even though the WT would “be ‘accompanied’ by” amendments to existing Treaties. These negotiations will thus be held between the EU, with the Commission as broker, and the government of the UK, and Britain will remain a Member of the EU until negotiations are finished and the WT enters into force. The outcome of these negotiations, and the impact for both the EU and the UK are heavily debated, and Jean-Claude Piris, former Director General of the Legal Service of the Council of the European Union, presented 7 different scenarios of a possible outcome of the WT.