Wednesday

14th Apr 2021

Brexit may not happen, EU top judge says

  • "We don't know yet if and when and under what conditions" Brexit may happen, said Lenaerts (Photo: Reuters)

The EU court’s most senior judge has cast doubt on whether the UK will really leave the EU, while adding that it was never a fully-fledged member in the first place.

Koen Lenaerts, a Belgian judge who is the president of the European Court of Justice, spoke out in a radio interview broadcast on Thursday (1 September).

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Become an expert on Europe

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

“I am a very great fan of the UK,” he told Dutch radio programme De Kennis van Nu. “I would find it very regrettable for the EU that it would lose [the UK's] input … if it ever comes to a Brexit.”

“Because of course, we don't know yet if and when and under what conditions [it might happen]. We have had the referendum, which was a clear political signal, but a lot still has to happen,” he said.

“Let me be clear, everything is still somewhat speculative. And until now nothing has changed - the United Kingdom is still a full member”, he added.

The Belgian law professor also said that the UK authorities and the British public never really felt part of the EU.

He gave as an example billboards that he saw at Britain’s leading airport which depicted the EU as a foreign land.

“At Heathrow [airport in London] you will find signs saying: 'Flights to the European Union’,” Lenaerts told the Dutch radio station.

Comparing the UK with Norway, which, unlike Britain, is a member of the EU’s open-borders Schengen zone, he said: “In a certain way, Norway is more of a member state without actually being one, than the UK which formally is.”

His comments come 10 weeks after British citizens voted to leave the EU.

British PM Theresa May has indicated that she will trigger the formal process of leaving the union early next year, but the talks could drag out until 2019 or longer, and, in the meantime, the UK will remain an EU member.

Some British politicians have said that the UK parliament or the devolved governments of Scotland and Northern Ireland could block the exit.

Others have called for a new general election or a second referendum.

Others still have said that the UK could remain an EU member if the EU made far-reaching reforms to its current form in the next few years.

But earlier this week, May said: "There’s no second referendum; no attempts to sort of stay in the EU by the back door ... we’re actually going to deliver on this”.

Tusk and Merkel discuss post-Brexit EU

EU Council president Tusk will meet chancellor Merkel at a castle retreat in Germany on Thursday as part of preparations for the Brexit summit in Bratislava.

News in Brief

  1. EU states make progress on Covid-19 'travel certificates'
  2. Michel pledges to protect von der Leyen's 'dignity' in future
  3. Libya frees UN-sanctioned human trafficker
  4. European court: jailed Turkish writer's rights violated
  5. EU set to miss 1m electric charging points by 2025 target
  6. Lavrov expects Iran nuclear deal to be saved
  7. France suspends flights from Brazil due to Covid variant
  8. Johnson & Johnson delays roll-out of vaccine in EU

Post-Brexit talks in last push until Sunday

The probability of no deal has increased as a last-ditch effort by British prime minister Boris Johnson and EU Commission president Ursula von der Leyen did not bridge gaps.

Opinion

What a No Deal Brexit is going to look like

Research by the London School of Economics forecasts that a no-deal Brexit could be three times as bad as the pandemic for the UK economy, writes mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, and the president of the Committee of the Regions.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersDigitalisation can help us pick up the green pace
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersCOVID19 is a wake-up call in the fight against antibiotic resistance
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersThe Nordic Region can and should play a leading role in Europe’s digital development
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Council to host EU webinars on energy, digitalisation and antibiotic resistance
  5. UNESDAEU Code of Conduct can showcase PPPs delivering healthier more sustainable society
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersWomen benefit in the digitalised labour market

Latest News

  1. Nato and US urge Russia to back off on Ukraine
  2. Future EU platform seeks to 'stay clean' of hate speech
  3. Denmark threatens Syria deportations amid EU concerns
  4. MEPs raise concerns on vaccine 'travel certificates'
  5. Will Romania be EU's Green Deal laggard?
  6. Muslims, Ramadan, and myths facing 'European civilisation'
  7. Europe & Africa - rebuilding the future
  8. How the pandemic became an EU goldmine for crime

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us