Vincent Power, Head of EU & Competition at A&L Goodbody was interviewed on Newstalk on 22nd March about the triggering of Article 50 on 29th March. He joined Vincent Wall on the Breakfast Business show and highlighted a combination of legal challenges, elections, an EU tradition of protracted negotiating processes, and even a possible referendum in Ireland as factors which can delay Brexit.
Triggering Article 50 is big news now but it will be largely forgotten. If the UK leaves then it will be the tough negotiations and, moreover, the final deal which will be remembered - triggering Article 50 is like the kick-off of a football match, it will be the result that will be remembered. If the UK changes its mind – and States do (Norway changed its mind twice about joining the EU and Indonesia changed its mind about leaving the UN) – then it will also be largely forgotten. It is an unprecedented move. While Algeria, Greenland and Saint Barthélémy were all in, what is now, the EU, none was a Member State or such a strategically important player as the UK. But what are the legal implications of what has happened?
At one level, nothing changes. The UK is still bound by EU law – emphasised recently by the European Parliament – and, legally, it is “business as usual” with the UK obliged to comply with EU law while businesses and citizens in the U.K. may avail of EU rights and others elsewhere may still invoke EU law against the UK.