On 16 February, the European Parliament approved a resolution on the assessment of the implementation of Article 50 TEU
The objective of the report is to analyse the ways in which the provisions of Article 50 TEU have been interpreted and applied, and the way that the procedure for the UK’s withdrawal from the EU under that Article was organised and conducted, including the lessons drawn with respect to EU law and the functioning of the European Union.
The report notes that Article 50 TEU is silent or not clear enough on several aspects of the procedure that arose during the withdrawal of the UK from the Union, in particular in not imposing any formal requirements on the notification of the intention to leave the Union, on time-limit or revocation of that notification and does not explicitly provide for the possibility of transitional arrangements.
The report, albeit in a dry and formal language, contains some stinging observations on the how the process of leaving the EU was conducted by the UK, from stating how Scotland and Northern Ireland voted in favour of remaining in the EU to how “the referendum campaign was not accompanied by a sufficient number of awareness raising campaigns, as citizens were never given a clear picture of the relationship that their country would have with the EU once it left, and were often misled about the implications of the withdrawal, especially as regards Northern Ireland, thus revealing the risks and challenges posed by misinformation”.
In the report there were are also notably some observations of a very political nature, like “the withdrawal process was characterised, on the part of the UK, by protracted uncertainty from the outset, until the end of the negotiations” .
The report states the consequences of leaving the EU “were not genuinely and fully assessed by the UK prior to its decision to withdraw, which resulted in a lack of preparation for the procedure”. It is also is particularly critical of the information given before and during the referendum campaign: “…..British citizens had scant knowledge about the European Union and were not adequately informed about the far-reaching consequences of the decision to leave the Union”.
The report also includes the suggestion that in case of a future application of Art.50, a referendum to confirm the final decision to leave could be an important democratic safeguard, especially in case the negotiations of a withdrawal agreement fail to conclude, provoking a no-deal scenario.
The final reflections in the report consider that Article 50 allows for the solving of the procedural aspect of a Member State’s withdrawal, but does not solve the political, social and economic consequences of the withdrawal of a Member State from the EU both in the Member States and internationally; and emphasize the need for an open and broadened dialogue on the reforms that the Union needs and how this dialogue must involve civil society and citizens themselves.