Saturday

25th Nov 2017

UK to stay under EU law in post-Brexit phase, Malta says

  • "We would not be in our senses if we came up with a Brexit deal that was not inferior to EU membership," said Malta's PM, Joseph Muscat (l, with UK prime minister Theresa May) (Photo: Consilium)

With the British government still trying to define its Brexit strategy, the Maltese EU presidency has warned that the UK will remain under EU law even after a deal is reached.

Speaking to journalists in Valletta on Thursday (12 January), Maltese prime minister Joseph Muscat said that during the transition period between a Brexit deal and a another agreement to establish new relations, "the governing institutions should be the European institutions".

Thank you for reading EUobserver!

Subscribe now for a 30 day free trial.

  1. €150 per year
  2. or €15 per month
  3. Cancel anytime

EUobserver is an independent, not-for-profit news organization that publishes daily news reports, analysis, and investigations from Brussels and the EU member states. We are an indispensable news source for anyone who wants to know what is going on in the EU.

We are mainly funded by advertising and subscription revenues. As advertising revenues are falling fast, we depend on subscription revenues to support our journalism.

For group, corporate or student subscriptions, please contact us. See also our full Terms of Use.

If you already have an account click here to login.

He said that, for instance, Britain would still be under the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice (ECJ) even after it had left the EU. Leaving ECJ jurisdiction has been a long-time goal of Brexiteers.

Muscat said that the transition period "will not be a decade long" to avoid uncertainties.

He noted that it was "quite obvious" that financial services firms would be concerned by the transition period.

He said that other areas of concern would "depend on the demands that will be put by the British government".

On Wednesday, while opening his country's six-month EU presidency, Muscat had said that the EU wanted "a fair deal for the United Kingdom, but that fair deal has to be inferior to membership".

He said on Thursday that Britain's 27 EU partners did not have "let's go out and get them" attitude, but that "we would not be in our senses if we came up with a Brexit deal that was not inferior to EU membership".

Involving MEPs

"I don't think there is anyone even in the UK who expects that any deal on Brexit would be even better than membership itself," he noted.

He said the perks of membership was "something that is keeping [the 27] together and that is something that is very obvious".

He also repeated the EU position that an EU-UK exit deal would have to be submitted to the European Council - the EU leaders’ summit - "by October 2018".

Muscat, a former MEP, insisted that the European Parliament should be involved in the Brexit discussions.

"We would be playing with fire if the European Parliament is not part of wider workings of the deal," he said, adding than it was important to avoid that Brexit becomes an issue in the 2019 European elections.

He warned of "an unholy alliance of unlikely bedfellows" who could "scupper the deal" in the parliament.

Malta, which holds the presidency of the EU Council until the end of June, has old ties with the UK.


When the Rome treaty establishing the European Economic Community in 1957, Malta was still a British colony.

It became independent in 1964 and a republic in 1974 - the year that Muscat was born. The last British military base was closed in 1979.

Blinking first

In what Muscat called an "historical irony", Malta was incidentally chairing the Commonwealth, the association of former British colonies, since November 2015 until November this year.

Muscat assured that across the EU, "nobody is out to destroy the British economy" because it was in the Union’s interest that the UK did well.

Maltese finance minister Edward Scicluna said: “Both the EU and the UK will suffer" from Brexit.

He spoke after the governor of the Bank of England, Mark Carney, had said on Wednesday that the economic risk of a nasty divorce was higher for the EU.

Scicluna said that the EU-UK separation ought to be a friendly one, especially when it comes to financial and economic issues, but he added that "circumstances are not going in that direction".

If it did come to a showdown, "the UK will blink first”, he said.

Column / Brexit Briefing

Rude awakening for Brexit diplomacy

The resignation of the British EU ambassador has exposed a divide between Leave and Remain supporters that goes to the core of the country's government.

Trade talks could only start post-Brexit

Substantive negotiations on an EU-UK free trade deal would only start once Brexit is a reality. The main issue could be how much the UK would want to retain elements of the single market, and what the EU agrees to.

Irish crisis may complicate Brexit summit

Snap elections are on the horizon in Ireland over the future of Irish PM's right-hand woman, three weeks before Irish PM is due in Brussels for a crucial Brexit vote.

News in Brief

  1. Merkel: Germany remains 'active' in EU
  2. Work with Israel, Egypt on gas exploration, says Commission
  3. Only seven EU states have 'advanced' stage climate plans
  4. EU dashes integration hopes of eastern countries
  5. EU approves joint Irish electricity scheme
  6. German president to launch 'Grand Coalition' talks
  7. Irish opposition 'threatens national interest', says minister
  8. SPD drops opposition to grand coalition in Germany

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. EPSU-Eurelectric-IndustriAllElectricity European Social Partners Stand up for Just Energy Transition
  2. European Friends of ArmeniaSignature of CEPA Marks a Fresh Start for EU-Armenia Relations
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Energy Ministers Pledge to Work More Closely at Nordic and EU Level
  4. European Friends of ArmeniaPresident Sargsyan Joined EuFoA Honorary Council Inaugural Meeting
  5. International Partnership for Human RightsEU Leaders Should Press Azerbaijan President to End the Detention of Critics
  6. CECEKey Stakeholders to Jointly Tackle the Skills Issue in the Construction Sector
  7. European Friends of ArmeniaLaunch of Honorary Council on the Occasion of the Eastern Partnership Summit and CEPA
  8. Idealist Quarterly"Dear Politics, Time to Meet Creativity!" Afterwork Discussion & Networking
  9. EPSUStudy Finds TUNED and Employers in Central Governments Most Representative
  10. Mission of China to the EUAmbassador Zhang Ming Received by Tusk; Bright Future for EU-China Relations
  11. EU2017EEEstonia, With the ECHAlliance, Introduces the Digital Health Society Declaration
  12. ILGA EuropeFreedom of Movement For All Families? Same Sex Couple Ask EU Court for Recognition