You’ve been hearing about Article 50 since the Brexit vote but if like many others you didn’t know what it means here is the easy explanation:
Article 50 of the Treaty on European Union (EU) is the name given to the section of the EU law that explains the process a given EU member must follow in order to leave the EU bloc.
To make a long story short the article provides that “Any Member State may decide to withdraw from the Union in accordance with its own constitutional requirements”.
Triggering article 50 means officially informing the European Council that the country intends to exit the EU. Once article 50 is triggered the EU has two years to negotiate the terms of the country’s withdrawal. This period of time can only be extended by unanimous consent, and the final deal must be approved by the majority of the EU member states.
Before including Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty to the treaties of the EU on the 1st of December 2009 there was no official process in which a country could withdraw from the bloc.
This process has not happened before the UK voted to exit the EU in June of 2016, and when article 50 is triggered on Wednesday the 29th of March it will be for the very first time in the history of the EU.