Thursday

21st Mar 2019

UK to depart EU court and Euratom

  • Barnier (r) and Davis to meet for new round of talks on Monday (Photo: European Commission)

Britain has published its Brexit positions on the EU’s top court and on the Euratom treaty four days ahead of the second round of EU exit talks.

The position papers indicated the British government wanted a hard Brexit, including an end to the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice (ECJ) and exit from Euratom, a nuclear industry treaty.

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It wanted Britain to quit the nuclear treaty, but to continue working with Euratom members to ensure a “smooth transition” to a new UK regime, with "no interruption in safeguard arrangements”, it said on Thursday (13 July).

The government paper said the UK had no choice but to leave Euratom, as the European Commission had made clear Britain would need to leave the treaty when it left the bloc.

The European Parliament’s Brexit spokesman, Guy Verhofstadt, also said on Wednesday that Britain could not stay a member of the EU nuclear regulator after Brexit.

He added that the treaty could continue to function if London signed an association agreement, but an associate option was not explored by the UK’s paper.

Scientists have warned London that leaving the treaty could hamper the supply of radioactive isotopes used in scans and cancer treatment. The British paper did not address those health care concerns either.

Court red line

One of the reasons why the UK is to leave Euratom is to end the jurisdiction of the ECJ, which oversees the treaty.

"Leaving the EU will end the jurisdiction of the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) in the UK,” the second British paper said, using an alternative title for the tribunal.

"By ending the jurisdiction of the Court of Justice of the European Union, UK courts will be supreme once more,” the UK’s Brexit negotiator David Davis said.

The UK paper said that the court should not be able to hear UK cases from the day after Britain left the EU, but could still rule on cases that began before the departure date.

"The UK recognises that beyond a certain point in proceedings, where considerable time and resources have been invested in CJEU proceedings, it may well be right that such cases continue to a CJEU decision,” the paper said.

“The UK does not consider that the CJEU should remain competent to rule on cases on which it has not been seized before the day of withdrawal, even where the facts arose before withdrawal,” it added.

The issue is expected to be a major stumbling block during the talks, as the EU wants the ECJ to remain the guarantor of the rights of EU citizens living in the EU for their lifetimes.

It also wants the court to oversee the EU divorce agreement, but for British prime minister Theresa May, the ECJ is a “red line”.

Agency privileges

A third paper dealt with the privileges and immunities of the EU institutions and agencies.

The UK said it would agree to an interim period of time for those agencies and organisations to continue enjoying privileges until the EU winds them down.

“The UK sees the need, in the context of an overall settlement on withdrawal, for certain privileges and immunities to apply for a limited period after exit,” the paper said.

Two EU agencies, the European Medicines Agency and the European Banking Authority, will have to relocate from London.

The European Commission kept silent on the British position papers on Thursday.

“We will not offer running commentary,” a spokesman for the EU executive said.

Waiting for the check

The EU’s Brexit negotiator, Michel Barnier, had on Wednesday urged London to publish position papers ahead of the second round of talks next Monday.

The EU has published nine papers on key issues, while the UK had so far published only its stance on citizens’ rights.

Barnier was keen for the UK to make its position known on the single financial settlement.

So far the UK has not acknowledged that it is obliged to settle accounts with the EU when it left the bloc, which Barnier said could stall further talks on the future relations.

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