It appears from the article below by Frank Markovic of European Public Affairs.eu, that the unexpected Brexit vote to leave has caught EU leaders as unprepared as the British government. This lack of provision for who will be negotiating with Britain on behalf of the EU, would explain why the European Commission (EC), in a seeming power grab, has taken the lead in proposing a ban on such negotiations until Article 50 is invoked triggering the UK’s departure.
However, according to Jack Straw, British Foreign Secretary 2001 – 06, in a letter to the Times of June 30th, this should be resisted as paragraph 3 of Article 50 contains a trap. It makes clear that in the absence of an earlier agreement, the “[EU] treaties shall cease to apply” to the UK “two years after the [original] notification under the Article, unless all member states unanimously decided otherwise. Thus “once the clock is set ticking, the EU ends up with most of the cards in its hands. It can simply sit tight.”
Mr Straw suggests, therefore, that “if Mr Juncker [the EC President] is intent on playing hard ball, so should the British government, and assiduously seek allies with those states (and corporations) that have a shared interest with the UK in a sensible outcome.”
The EU is dominated by a great deal of uncertainty as today the Netherlands hands over the reins of the EU Council presidency to Slovakia.
Last week, British citizens exercised their democratic right and voted, against all expectations, to leave the EU.
On the UK’s side, it is yet to be determined by whom and when Article 50 will be triggered, marking the official beginning of the EU-UK negotiations.
However, it seems that on the other side of the English Channel the EU leaders, oblivious to Brexit as a real threat, have been caught by surprise. As a consequence, no provisions had been put in place to know who will be negotiating on behalf of the EU, what the position of 27 countries will be nor do we have any idea what the future of the EU holds in terms of the necessary structural changes.
None of this had been seriously discussed before 23rd June, as far as is known, among Member States.