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Aggiornato il: 29 mar 2019

What does Brexit mean?

Brexit is a term used to describe the latest choice of the UK to leave the EU. It comes from the words Britain and exit. The two words have been assembled in the same way as Greek and exit to obtain Grexit, coined in 2012 by the Citigroup economist Ebrahim Rahbari.

Why is Britain leaving the European Union?

A referendum was held on Thursday 23 June, 2016, to decide whether the UK should leave or remain in the European Union. “Leave” won by 51.9% to 48.1%. The referendum turnout was 71.8%, with more than 30 million voters.

What was the breakdown across the UK?

53.4% of English people voted for Brexit. Wales also voted for Brexit, with “Leave” getting 52.5% of the vote and “Remain” 47.5%. Scotland and Northern Ireland both backed staying in the EU. “Remain” got 62% In Scotland and 55.8% in Northern Ireland.

When is the UK supposed to leave the EU?

To leave the EU it has to be invoked of Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty which gives two years to agree the terms of the split. Theresa May triggered this process on 29 March, 2017, meaning the UK is scheduled to leave at 11pm (UK time) on Friday, 29 March 2019. A European court has ruled that the UK can decide to halt the process and stay in the EU at any time up to the deadline. Alternatively the process can be extended if all 28 EU members agree. But at the moment all sides are focusing on that date as being the key one, and Theresa May has put it into British law.

So is Brexit definitely happening?

As things stand, the UK is due to leave the European Union on 29 March, 2019, regardless of whether there is a deal with the EU or not.

But could Brexit be cancelled?

Yes. Stopping Brexit would require a change in the law in the UK, it is something neither the government nor the main UK opposition parties want to do at this point. The European Court of Justice ruled on 10 December 2018 that the UK could cancel the Article 50 Brexit process without the permission of the other 27 EU members, and remain a member of the EU on its existing terms, provided the decision followed a "democratic process".

Why do politicians want a deal?

The main point of having a deal between the UK and the EU is to ensure as smooth as possible an exit from the EU for businesses and individuals - and to allow time for the two sides to hammer out a permanent trading relationship.

What is in Theresa May's deal with the EU?

After months of negotiation, the UK and EU agreed a Brexit deal. It comes in two parts. A 585-page withdrawal agreement. This is a legally-binding text that sets the terms of the UK's divorce from the EU. It covers how much money the UK owes the EU - an estimated £39bn - and what happens to UK citizens living elsewhere in the EU and EU citizens living in the UK. It also proposes a method of avoiding the return of a physical Northern Ireland border.

What would happen if the UK left without a deal?

The UK would sever all ties with the EU with immediate effect, with no transition period and no guarantees on citizens' rights of residence. The government fears this would cause significant disruption to businesses in the short-term, with lengthy tailbacks of lorries at the channel ports, as drivers face new checks on their cargos.

Food retailers have warned of shortages of fresh produce and the NHS is stockpiling medicines, in case supplies from EU countries are interrupted. Government ministers and multinational companies with factories in the UK have also warned about the long-term impact on the British economy. Brexit-supporting MPs claim it would not be as bad as they say and the UK would save on the £39bn divorce bill, as well as being free to strike its own beneficial trade deals around the world.

Would trade with the EU continue?

The World Trade Organization sets rules for countries that do not have free trade deals with each other, including tariffs - the taxes charged on the import of goods. Without an agreement on trade, the UK would trade with the EU under World Trade Organization rules.


EU is today facing a difficult situation. Anti-european movements are emerging in almost every country of the Union, from Italy to France, Hungary and Poland. But we should have learnt the lesson from history: when Europe was divided, countries were always fighting and two world wars destroyed Europe.

After the birth of the European Union, all the countries lived the longest period of peace and stability in its history.

The EU is not perfect and there are still lots of things to do to promote cooperation among the nations, but this is the only possible future for our continent. In May there will be the next European elections: please do vote! Your vote is important: it is the only way to express your vision of the future of Europe. Let’s found the United States of Europe!

By Alessio Buda, Francesco Di Bartolomeo, Francesco Busich, Stefano De Vincentiis

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