The Future of the European Union after Brexit


On March 29th Prime Minister of the United Kingdom (UK) Therese May triggered article 50 of the Treaty on the European Union (TEU) in order to withdraw the United Kingdom from the European Union (EU). Just this Tuesday (April 18th) Prime Minister May called for a snap UK election on June 8th 2017 in order to give the people of the United Kingdom a say in whether or not May’s government is acting in the right way in the Brexit negotiations. This blog analyzes some possible implications of the Brexit, according to the European Commission’s White Paper on the future of Europe in 2025.

Withdrawal letter

In article 50 TEU sub 1 & 2 it is stated that any member state may decide to withdraw from the Union in accordance with its own constitutional requirements and that a leaving member state formally needs to notify the European Council of its intention to withdraw. 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.

In her notification to President of the European Council Donald Tusk Prime Minister Theresa May explained that:

‘Earlier this month, the United Kingdom Parliament confirmed the result of the referendum by voting with clear and convincing majorities in both of its Houses for the European Union (Notification of Withdrawal) Bill. The Bill was passed by Parliament on 13 March and it received Royal Assent from Her Majesty The Queen and became an Act of Parliament on 16 March. Today, therefore, I am writing to give effect to the democratic decision of the people of the United Kingdom. I hereby notify the European Council in accordance with Article 50 (2) of the Treaty on European Union of the United Kingdom's intention to withdraw from the European Union.’

Herewith, Prime Minister Theresa May officially triggered the withdrawal procedure which needs to be concluded no later than two years after the formal notification, id est March 2019 (and just before the elections for the European Parliament in May 2019). This in accordance with article 50 sub 3 TEU.


To prepare for a European Union without the United Kingdom President of the European Commission Jean-Claude Juncker presented a White Paper in the beginning of March 2017 to outline five possible post-Brexit scenarios for the European Union in 2025. Later this year the European Council will use these scenarios to determine what the approach regarding the Brexit is going to be.

The five scenarios of the European Union in 2025 are called ‘carrying on,’ ‘nothing but the single market,’ ‘those who want more do more,’ ‘doing less more efficiently,’ and ‘doing much more together’. The starting point of all the scenarios is that the remaining 27 member states move forward together as a Union.

1.‘Carrying on’

The European Union focuses on delivering its positive reform agenda. The 27 remaining member states continue to focus on jobs, growth and investment by strengthening the Single Market and by stepping up investment in digital, transport and energy infrastructure.

2.‘Nothing but the Single Market’

The European Union is gradually re-centered on the Single Market. The functioning of the Single Market becomes the main “raison d’être” of the 27 remaining member states. Further progress depends on the capacity to agree related policies and standards. This proves easier for the free movement of capital and of goods, which continues tariff-free, than it does in other areas.

3.‘Those who want more do more’

The European Union allows willing member states to do more together in specific areas. A group of Member States decides to cooperate much closer on defense matters, making use of the existing legal possibilities. This includes a strong common research and industrial base, joint procurement, more integrated capabilities and enhanced military readiness for joint missions abroad.

4.‘Doing less more efficiently’

The European Union focuses on delivering more and faster in selected policy areas, while doing less elsewhere. The 27 remaining member states step up their work in fields such as innovation, trade, security, migration, the management of borders and defense. They develop new rules and enforcement tools to deepen the Single Market in key new areas. The 27 remaining member states focus on excellence in R&D and invest in new EU-wide projects to support decarbonisation and digitization.

5.‘Doing much more together’

The European Union decides to do much more together across all policy areas. On the international scene, Europe speaks and acts as one in trade and is represented by one seat in most international fora. The European Parliament has the final say on international trade agreements. Defense and security are prioritized. In full complementarity with the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), a European Defense Union is created. Cooperation in security matters is routine. The 27 remaining member states continue to lead the global fight against climate change and strengthen their role as the world’s largest humanitarian and development aid donor.

On April 29th 2017, Brexit (and these five scenarios) will be discussed during a special meeting of the European Council.


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