Whilst the current period following Brexit is one filled with uncertainty as to what will happen, we are positive that the situation will present a number of opportunities for our clients. We are fully geared towards recommending Malta as a prime European hub which acts as a bridge between the EU and the UK. At Chetcuti Cauchi, we have handpicked a group of specialists from various practices who are working directly on Brexit in order to explore the best opportunities possible which our clients can benefit from. They are available to assist you with any queries or refer you to the appropriate specialists to do so and offer the best solutions possible for your business.
The Brexit referendum
23rd June 2016 will go down in history books as the historic day when the citizens of the United Kingdom decided to do away with their status as members of the European Union and split with the Union. Popularly known as Brexit, the UK’s decision to leave the European Union was supported by 52% of all voters.
Whilst the UK as a whole voted for Brexit, voting patterns vary considerably among different regions, as well as different demographic groups.
Three quarters of British voters aged 24 and under, as well as 56% of voters aged 25-49 have voted against Brexit. This has stirred a great deal of discussion, with the youth claiming that the older generation has made a decision that will impact their future and showing their discontent with a petition for a second EU referendum which has reached over 4 million votes and holding pro-EU rally in Central London.
Furthermore, while a majority in England and Wales championed the Leave campaign, the Remain campaign was strongly backed by London, Scotland and Northern Ireland. With a staggering 62% voting in favour of the UK remaining in the EU in Scotland, a number of news papers have speculated that Scotland might hinder the process for the UK to leave the EU, or even hold a second independence referendum to leave the UK.
However, these are still mere speculations and guesses. As the facts stand, the majority has expressed its will to leave the EU and thus this will has to be respected and the UK will eventually cease to be a member state. Eventually is a keyword, as the vote which was carried out on the 23rd June did not automatically abolish the UK’s status as an EU member state. EU law still stands in the UK until it creases being a member and it will continue to abide by EU treaties and laws, without taking part in any decision-making.
When will the UK cease to be an EU member state?
The process for the UK to leave the EU is a rather long one; therefore drastic changes will certainly not happen overnight. Forty-three years of treaties and agreements embedded in UK national legislation covering a multitude of different subjects takes time to be undone and will not be an easy feat. The UK parliament must also decide what EU laws it intends to keep and which should be repealed which will certainly take time. The formal mechanism for leaving the European Union starts off with Article 50. Once this Article has been invoked, the UK will have two years to negotiate its withdrawal. However, keeping in mind that the terms on which the UK will exist must be agreed to by 27 national parliaments, some have stated that process will take much longer, with Britain’s’ Chancellor Philip Hammond suggesting it could take up to 6 years to fully negotiate the exit.
Moreover, the Brexit process will be shrouded in uncertainty and will present a substantial challenge to those who will be carrying out the negotiations. Whilst formal mechanisms are enshrined in Article 50, there is no clear indication of how the process will work due to the fact that such negotiations will be the first of their kind as no country has ever made use of Article 50 since it came into being in 2009. UK politicians have not toggled this article yet, but, as the UK Prime Minister Theresa May has stated, ‘Brexit means Brexit,’ and thus the UK will abide by the will of the people.
Opportunities for you and your business
In the light of the above, while no radical changes will be taking place anytime soon, Chetcuti Cauchi has geared up to rise to the challenge and turn Brexit into an opportunity for its clients. We have been advising and we shall continue to advise clients on the legal implications for their business following this referendum, particularly on the attainment of Maltese Citizenship in order to conduct business from Malta.