Any referendum on continued EU membership only makes sense after invoking Article 50

My opinion on whether the UK should remain within the EU or leave has no locus standi and, in that sense, is irrelevant. But I find the sham promises of an EU referendum by politicians is behaviour which is interesting.  Anything which curbs the growth of the EU bureaucracy and the European Parliament is – I think – a good thing. I certainly think that the UK – and Sweden – should continue to stay well clear of the Euro where I think the experiment is failing.

The current noise in the UK around a future referendum about staying in or leaving the EU seems very contrived to me. Prime Minister Cameron promises an EU referendum after the next election only to try and gain the anti-EU support for the purposes of the election. He has no real intention of allowing any referendum to come to a decision to leave and everybody knows it. Any cosmetic re-negotiation of terms of membership will be known by all parties to be cosmetic and will have little focus.

The only way that I can see that any such referendum would be meaningful – in any member state –  is if it is held after the member state invokes Article 50 to leave the EU. The subsequent negotiations for an Agreement to Leave would then have a 2 year time limit and would have no option but to be sharp and focused. There would be no difficulty in withdrawing the invocation of Article 50 provided the referendum was held within the two year dead-line and decided that membership would continue.

Any member state which really wishes to have meaningful negotiations about EU membership must first invoke Article 50. Both options would then be truly open. Without this any referendum would be without teeth and any result “to leave” would be a hollow one.  By far the best negotiating position for a member state would be with an invocation of Article 50 to be followed by immediate negotiations and a referendum about 20 months later.

A parliamentary vote to invoke Article 50, then negotiations culminating in a referendum towards the end of the 2-year period would be the proper way to go.

Lisbon Treaty: 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.

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