The nation has spoken, and after months of campaigning from both sides, Brexit won a close majority in last night's referendum voting. The question now is; what does this mean for the UK?
The exit process
Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty gives leaving countries a two-year period within which to agree terms with a weighted majority of the remaining EU states.
To trigger Article 50, the leaving member state has to give notice to the European Council. Negotiations then begin in relation to the agreement for the country’s withdrawal from the EU and a framework for its future relationship with it.
EU treaties will cease to apply to the member state in question from the date of entry into force of its withdrawal agreement or, failing that, two years after the notification was given. Extending the talks beyond two years requires unanimity.
At this stage, it would seem likely that the UK will seek informal negotiations with the EU first before formally triggering Article 50.
The European Committee of the Regions, the EU's political assembly of local and regional representatives, has today provided the following statement:
“The departure of one of the EU's member states should be done according to the EU Treaties. During and long-after the transition period, we will continue to work with our friends and colleagues from local and regional authorities across the United Kingdom.”
What does this mean for EU funding?
Experts have stated that due to the timescales involved with negotiating an exit agreement, the UK would still benefit from and contribute to the EU budget; and this would include our continued eligibility to apply to the European funding programmes. This will continue until the UK officially begins its exit process as highlighted above.
It is also important to highlight that all contract and grant agreements are legally binding documents between project partners and the managing authority, meaning that despite our decision to leave the EU, these agreements would continue to require the European Commission to finance all UK partners should they apply for, and be successful with securing EU funding.
Despite the uncertainty surrounding our immediate future, one thing’s for certain; and that's European funding is still a viable option in the UK, at least whilst we negotiate our exit.
Understandably, today will be frenetic with much information about the implications of the UK's decision to leave the EU being widely circulated. However, as and when more information about how this affects the UK's eligibility for future funding programmes become available, we will let you know.