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EU Referendum: Notes from Brussels

1 July 2016


With summer coming and no sign that Britain will be willing to trigger Article 50 anytime soon, things are not likely to move fast in Brussels.

To add to the confusion, the EU seems to have been ill-prepared for the actual outcome and in total disarray with regards to the next steps.

In the institutions, the general mood seems to be business as usual, with one specific exception. Lord Hill, Commissioner for Financial Stability, Financial Services and Capital Markets Union decided to step down, arguing that he does not believe he could carry on as though nothing had happened.


At the Parliamentary level, there is no consensus on whether or not UK MEPs currently holding responsibilities on legislative files should step down from their current responsibilities.

So far, the only British MEP to signal their intention leave their position is ECR MEP Ian Duncan, who announced his intention to step down as Rapporteur on the Emissions Trading System dossier on the day the result was announced. However, it remains to be seen whether his resignation will be accepted by the Chair of the Environment Committee.

As regards current or upcoming legislative initiatives, it seems that the agenda will not be disrupted and that things will move forward, UK in or out.

One indication of this was that numerous informal agreements on various legislative proposals were reached this week between the Council and the Parliament, as is usually the case in the end in the last week of the rotating Presidency of the Council. Brexit does not seem to have acted as a stumbling block.

Similarly, future initiatives could be tabled in due time and amended according to the Brexit vote in the course of the legislative process.

However, the balance of the European Parliament will shift with the departure of the British contingent, with the centre-right European People’s Party likely to benefit as the only group not to lose any MEPs.


One other effect of Brexit is that, for the time being, any appointment, transfer or promotions of UK officials is likely to be blocked.

On the lobbying side of things, it is likely that the UK's vote to leave the EU will trigger numerous questions from a wide range of actors. As a consequence, consultancies are likely to be buzzing with activity in the coming weeks.

But overall, it is pretty much on the UK’s shoulders to decide when – and whether – the UK will trigger the now famous exit clause set out in Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty. Until then, Brussels appears determined to keep calm and carry on.

Alexis Thuau, EU Policy Analyst
Alexis Thuau
EU Policy Analyst

Alexis is responsible for DeHavilland EU’s energy, climate and environment portfolios. A graduate of Sciences-Po Aix-en-Provence and Pace University, he joined DeHavilland EU in 2015.