On 2 October 2016, British Prime Minister Theresa May announced the UK government’s plan to implement the process of the UK leaving the EU under Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty. Ms May confirmed she would trigger Article 50 by the end of March 2017 with the intention that the UK will leave the EU by the end of March 2019.
The specific terms for the UK’s withdrawal from the EU have yet to be established.
The UK’s impending exit from the European Union has brought about much uncertainty to UK citizens living and working in Ireland pursuant to EU Directive 38/2004/EC and The European Communities (Free Movement of Persons) Regulations 2015. People are concerned how this result will impact their free movement rights, and that of their family members.
For all British citizens now very concerned regarding their immigration status in Ireland, and that of their family members, they should be aware that the UK remains a full member of the European Union, and the terms of EU Directive 38/2004/EC and The European Communities (Free Movement of Persons) Regulations 2015 continue to apply to UK citizens and their family members. We expect this situation to continue as long as the UK remain part of the EU, which according to Ms May looks likely to be March 2019.
In order for the UK to officially exit from the European Union, the country must formally notify the European Council of its intention to leave, activating Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty. It is then up to the European Council to negotiate and conclude an agreement with the UK, setting out the arrangements for its withdrawal, taking account of the framework for its future relationship with the EU. The European Union must reach a qualified majority agreement between the member states and consent of the European Parliament for the UK to formally exit.
We refer to Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty which states:
“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.
The UK’s departure from the EU will be a long and complicated process. However, during this process, UK citizens will continue to enjoy all the rights of the current EU law and can therefore proceed with applications pursuant to EU Directive 38/2004/EC and The European Communities (Free Movement of Persons) Regulations 2015 as per normal.