Adams wants ‘special EU status’ for NI after Brexit
2017-04-01 17:31:16 -

By Chinedu Onyejelem

Sinn Féin president Gerry Adams has urged the Government to campaign for a “special status” for Northern Ireland within the European Union.

Such a move by Leinster House “will allow communities to continue to flourish, businesses to continue to trade freely, workers to cross the border and, crucially, the rights of Irish, and therefore EU citizens in the North to be fully upheld,” he said.
The call came on the day that British Prime Minister Theresa May triggered Article 50, formalising the United Kingdom’s withdrawal from the EU.

Adams said that a special status position “is the only option that legislates for the intricacies of the problem” and also “recognises the threat posed by Brexit to the island of Ireland as a whole.”

It would also “ensure the democratically expressed wishes of the people are respected”. More than half of all people in Northern Ireland (55.8%) voted ‘remain’ in last year’s Brexit referendum.

The Sinn Féin leader maintained that the May-led Conservative government “cannot be allowed to drag the people of the North of Ireland out of the EU against their will”.

Urging Taoiseach Enda Kenny to defend the “democratic mandate” of the Northern Irish people, as well as act in “Ireland’s national interest” during the forthcoming negotiations, Adams emphasised that it is the position of majority of the parties elected to the NI Assembly last month.

“The Irish Government must now commit to adopting the negotiating policy position of designated special status within the EU for the North,” he said.

What happens once Article 50 has been triggered?
The withdrawal agreement must be negotiated in accordance with Article 218 (3) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union.

Step 1: An extraordinary European Council will be convened by the president of the European Council, Donald Tusk on 29 April. The council will adopt by consensus a set of guidelines on the orderly withdrawal of the United Kingdom from the EU.

Step 2: After the adoption of the guidelines, the European Commission will very quickly present to the council a recommendation to open the negotiations. This will be agreed by the College of Commissioners, four days after the meeting of the European Council.

Step 3: The council will then need to authorise the start of the negotiations by adopting a set of negotiating directives. They must be adopted by strong qualified majority (72 per cent of the 27 EU member states).

Once these directives are adopted, the union negotiator, as designated by the council, is mandated to begin negotiations with the withdrawing member state.

How is the withdrawal agreement concluded?

The negotiations on the orderly withdrawal must be completed within a period of two years from the moment Article 50 is triggered. If no agreement is reached within this period, the treaties will cease to apply to the withdrawing member state.

At the end of the negotiation period, the union negotiator will present an agreement proposal to the council and the European Parliament. The parliament must give its consent, by a vote of simple majority, including MEPs from the UK. 

The council will conclude the agreement, by a vote of strong qualified majority. The UK must also ratify the agreement according to its own constitutional arrangements.

The negotiations themselves will last some 18 months (early June 2017 to October/November 2018).

Who will negotiate for the European Union?

The heads of state or government of the EU 27 invited the council to nominate the European Commission as the union negotiator. They welcomed the appointment by the commission of Michel Barnier as the chief negotiator. Both will systematically report to the European Council and its preparatory bodies. Barnier will keep the European Parliament closely and regularly informed throughout the negotiations, which will take place in Brussels.

When does the UK cease to be a member of the EU?

The EU Treaties cease to apply to the United Kingdom from the date of entry into force of the agreement, or within two years of the notification of withdrawal in case of no agreement. The council may decide to extend that period by unanimity.
Until withdrawal, the member state remains a member of the EU with all the rights and obligations that derive from membership.

What happens if no agreement is reached?

The EU Treaties simply cease to apply to the UK two years after notification.

Can a member state apply to re-join after it leaves?

Any country that has withdrawn from the EU may apply to re-join. It would be required to go through the accession procedure.

Once triggered, can Article 50 be revoked?

It is up to the United Kingdom to trigger Article 50. But once triggered, it cannot be unilaterally reversed. Notification is a point of no return. Article 50 does not provide for the unilateral withdrawal of notification.
If a state which has withdrawn from the Union asks to re-join, its request shall be subject to the procedure referred to in Article 49.
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