The Union and the withdrawing Member State have a time-frame of two years to agree on withdrawal arrangements. After that, membership ends automatically (with or without a withdrawal agreement), unless the European Council (by consensus) and the Member State concerned decide to extend this period (Article 50(3) TEU). The withdrawal agreement could set out concrete arrangements relating, inter alia, to institutional and budgetary matters, and the future status of EU citizens in the withdrawing state and its citizens in other Member States. The agreement might also include provisions on the departing Member State’s future relationship with the Union, or these details could be left to a separate agreement, to be negotiated either in parallel or after the state’s formal exit. In particular, this second aspect is seen by experts as potentially very complex and could require negotiations taking much longer than the two-year period.
Before concluding the withdrawal agreement, the Council needs to obtain the European Parliament’s consent (Article 50(2) TEU), voting by a simple majority of the votes cast. Whilst the Parliament has no formal role within the negotiation process, other than the right to receive regular information on its progress, its right to withhold consent to the final agreement offers political leverage to influence the agreement.