Jean-Claude Juncker has said he would be “happy” to help Britain rejoin the European Union if it wants to after it leaves in 2019.
Mr Juncker said the UK could apply to rejoin under Article 49 of the Lisbon Treaty even after it leaves the EU in March 2019 – if the Government or British people want to “find a way out” of Brexit.
It comes after European Council president Donald Tusk said on Tuesday he was open to a “change of heart” from the UK.
What is Article 49?
Article 49 deals with applications to join the EU, meaning the UK could apply to rejoin even after Brexit.
What does the Article state?
For Britain to rejoin the EU, it must “respect the values referred to in Article 2 of the Lisbon Treaty. Article 2 states that the EU is “founded on the values of respect for human dignity, freedom, democracy, equality, the rule of law and respect for human rights, including the rights of persons belonging to minorities”. The member states share a “society in which pluralism, non-discrimination, tolerance, justice, solidarity and equality between women and men prevail”.
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So technically Britain could rejoin the EU?
Technically this is possible and Britain could apply to become a member of the Union if it respects the values set out in Article 2.
What would happen next?
The European Parliament and national Parliaments would be notified of the application. Britain would then make its case for rejoining to the Council. They will then consult the EC and if there is an absolute majority in the European Parliament agreeing, Britain could once again become an EU member. However, conditions of readmission would be applied to the UK, which the British Government would also need to agree with.
How likely is it to happen?
At the moment, rejoining the EU is unlikely, given the divisive views on Brexit. However, if public opinion about staying in the EU grew to an overwhelming majority, whoever is running the UK at the time may consider putting forward another referendum to let the country decide whether it wants to cancel or reverse Brexit.