Saturday

29th Apr 2017

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).

Dear EUobserver reader

Subscribe now for unrestricted access to EUobserver.

Sign up for 30 days' free trial, no obligation. Full subscription only 15 € / month or 150 € / year.

  1. Unlimited access on desktop and mobile
  2. All premium articles, analysis, commentary and investigations
  3. EUobserver archives

EUobserver is the only independent news media covering EU affairs in Brussels and all 28 member states.

♡ We value your support.

If you already have an account click here to login.

“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.

EU boasts unity on Brexit talks

EU leaders adopted the bloc's guidelines for the UK exit negotiations that will start in June, amid concerns that France could elect a president that would try to take it out of the EU.

Column / Brexit Briefing

May’s election juggernaut

The prime minister's Tories almost need not bother campaigning for the June election. There is no opposition worthy of the name.

News in Brief

  1. Vote of no confidence prepared against Spanish PM
  2. Syria to buy Russian anti-missile system
  3. Germany seeks partial burka ban
  4. Libya has no plan to stop migration flows
  5. EU has no evidence of NGO-smuggler collusion in Libya
  6. Poland gets 'final warning' on logging in ancient forest
  7. Commission gives Italy final warning on air pollution
  8. Romania and Slovenia taken to court over environment policies

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. European Healthy Lifestyle AllianceCharlotte Hornets' Nicolas Batum Tells Kids to "Eat Well, Drink Well, Move!"
  2. ECR GroupSyed Kamall: We Need a New, More Honest Relationship With Turkey
  3. Counter BalanceParliament Sends Strong Signal to the EIB: Time to Act on Climate Change
  4. ACCARisks and Opportunities of Blockchain and Shared Ledgers Technologies in Financial Services
  5. UNICEFRace Against Time to Save Millions of Lives in Yemen
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersDeveloping Independent Russian-Language Media in the Baltic Countries
  7. Swedish EnterprisesReform of the European Electricity Market: Lessons from the Nordics, Brussels 2 May
  8. Malta EU 2017Green Light Given for New EU Regulation to Bolster External Border Checks
  9. Counter BalanceCall for EU Commission to Withdraw Support of Trans-Adriatic Pipeline
  10. ACCAEconomic Confidence at Highest Since 2015
  11. European Federation of Allergy and Airways60%-90% of Your Life Is Spent Indoors. How Does Poor Indoor Air Quality Affect You?
  12. European Gaming and Betting AssociationCJEU Confirms Obligation for a Transparent Licensing Process