Saturday

18th Aug 2018

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

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join 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. Germany and Greece strike deal on taking back migrants
  2. Merkel confronts far-right critics: '2015 will not be repeated'
  3. UN: Predictable disembarkation process urgently needed
  4. Slovenia set to select former comedian as prime minister
  5. Polish president to veto election rule helping big parties
  6. MEPs blast UK 'alphabetical approach' on citizens rights
  7. EU hits back over Salvini's blame for bridge collapse
  8. Poll: Sweden's social democrat-led government set to win again

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. ACCACompany Law Package: Making the Best of Digital and Cross Border Mobility,
  2. IPHRCivil Society Worried About Shortcomings in EU-Kyrgyzstan Human Rights Dialogue
  3. UNESDAThe European Soft Drinks Industry Supports over 1.7 Million Jobs
  4. Mission of China to the EUJointly Building Belt and Road Initiative Leads to a Better Future for All
  5. IPHRCivil society asks PACE to appoint Rapporteur to probe issue of political prisoners in Azerbaijan
  6. ACCASocial Mobility – How Can We Increase Opportunities Through Training and Education?
  7. Nordic Council of MinistersEnergy Solutions for a Greener Tomorrow
  8. UNICEFWhat Kind of Europe Do Children Want? Unicef & Eurochild Launch Survey on the Europe Kids Want
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Countries Take a Stand for Climate-Smart Energy Solutions
  10. Mission of China to the EUChina: Work Together for a Better Globalisation
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersNordics Could Be First Carbon-Negative Region in World
  12. European Federation of Allergy and AirwaysLife Is Possible for Patients with Severe Asthma

Latest News

  1. EU gets record response on 'summertime' consultation
  2. 'Nativism' and the upcoming Swedish and Bavarian elections
  3. Former Malta opposition leader fears for his life
  4. Women shun EU-funded site for female entrepreneurs
  5. Building a Europe more resilient to terrorism
  6. Brexit talks resume as chance of 'no deal' put at 50:50
  7. US trial sheds light on murky Cyprus-Russia links
  8. Burned cars fuel Swedish election debate

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us