Tuesday

5th Jul 2022

UK to recognise rulings by EU states' courts

  • The British high court in London - May promised to restore full sovereignty (Photo: Nick Garrod)

The UK is prepared to recognise some court rulings by judges in EU states after Brexit, but its trade ideas continue to attract ridicule.

The British government will say in a position paper to be published on Tuesday (22 August) that it will recognise the verdicts of judges in EU countries in commercial cases and in family disputes of a cross-border nature.

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

  • Varadkar (r) left "confused ... sceptical" (Photo: Consilium)

“Close cooperation in this area isn't just in the interest of the UK citizens living in the EU, it's in the interest of the 3.2 million EU citizens living here in Britain,” it said in a statement on Monday ahead of the publication.

“With more and more families living across borders, we need to make absolutely sure that if and when problems arise, they can be reassured that cross-border laws will apply to them in a fair and sensible way,” it added.

“A judgment obtained in one country can be recognised and enforced in another,” the statement went on.

“These could relate to issues such as a small business that has been left out of pocket by a supplier based in another EU country, a consumer who wants to sue a business in another country for a defective product they have purchased online, or a person who needs to settle divorce child custody or child maintenance issues with a family member who is living in a different EU country,” it said.

Papers proliferate

The British position paper is the latest in a series of publications ahead of the next round of EU exit talks on 28 August.

The UK published two other papers on Monday - one on EU product certification and one on respecting the confidentiality of official documents exchanged with the EU.

It published two previous papers last week - on EU customs arrangements and on its future border with Ireland.

It is also expected to publish a further paper on Wednesday dealing with the future jurisdiction of the EU Court of Justice (ECJ) in Luxembourg and another one later this week on data protection.

UK prime minister Theresa May had promised to restore full sovereignty to British courts after Brexit, leaving her open to criticism that Tuesday’s paper on cross-border commercial and family disputes represents a U-turn.

There is speculation that Wednesday’s paper on the ECJ will suggest using the so called EFTA court as a model for resolving future EU-UK disputes on issues such as citizens’ rights.

The EFTA court governs disputes between the EU and the other members of the European Free Trade Agreement (EFTA) - Iceland, Liechtenstein, and Norway.

Its rulings are non-binding on EFTA members, meaning that May could claim she had fulfilled her promise on UK sovereignty.

But the EFTA court rulings de facto follow the ECJ’s lead and are almost always implemented by EFTA states.

Trade ridicule

On trade, the UK paper on product certification said British exports such as cars, food, or pharmaceutical goods that already had permits to be sold in the EU prior to Brexit should not require new ones after the UK left in 2019.

“Goods placed on the single market before exit should continue to circulate freely in the UK and the EU, without additional requirements or restrictions”, it said.

The proposal is designed to reduce costs for exporters.

It takes UK firms up to €550,000 to certify each new model of car for sale in the single market, for instance.

The product certification paper is part of a UK bid to have “frictionless” trade with the EU, including on customs tariffs and checks, after it quits the single market.

Irish leader Leo Varadkar added to mounting ridicule of the British trade demands on Monday, however.

He told the Bloomberg news agency that the UK position papers had left him “confused and puzzled … sceptical”.

“That’s not a realistic position. What trade agreement does the UK want with the EU? At the moment, they have the best trade deal imaginable. What are these better deals the UK really wants from Europe and other countries? Some more clarity would be helpful,” he said.

Guy Verhofstadt, the European Parliament’s Brexit spokesman said last week that the British ideas were “fantasy”.

UK gambit

The British publications on trade also go against EU demands to agree on the UK’s exit terms prior to negotiating future relations.

The EU has said it must make “sufficient progress” on EU citizens’ rights, the Irish border, and on the financial cost of the UK’s divorce prior to discussing trade.

European Commission negotiator Michel Barnier said on Monday he had been “clear … since day one” on the sequence of the talks.

Varadkar also said that “progress has not been sufficient” to move to trade.

UK keen to keep old EU customs deal

Britain wants to keep its EU customs privileges after Brexit but also wants the freedom to negotiate other trade deals.

Brexit realities dawn in UK

Just over a year after a small majority voted for Britain to leave the EU, new realities are dawning on both the in and the out camps.

Opinion

Nato's Madrid summit — key takeaways

For the most part Nato and its 30 leaders rose to the occasion — but it wasn't without room for improvement. The lesson remains that Nato still doesn't know how or want to hold allies accountable for disruptive behaviour.

Column

One rubicon after another

We realise that we are living in one of those key moments in history, with events unfolding exactly the way Swiss art historian Jacob Burckhardt describes them: a sudden crisis, rushing everything into overdrive.

News in Brief

  1. Turkey signs Nato protocol despite Sweden extradition row
  2. European gas production hit by Norway strike
  3. EU Commission told to step up fight against CAP fraud
  4. Ukraine needs €719bn to rebuild, says PM
  5. Germany records first monthly trade deficit since 1991
  6. Pilots from Denmark, Norway, and Sweden strike
  7. Report: EU to sign hydrogen deal with Namibia
  8. Israel and Poland to mend relations

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic and Canadian ministers join forces to combat harmful content online
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic ministers write to EU about new food labelling
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersEmerging journalists from the Nordics and Canada report the facts of the climate crisis
  4. Council of the EUEU: new rules on corporate sustainability reporting
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic ministers for culture: Protect Ukraine’s cultural heritage!
  6. Reuters InstituteDigital News Report 2022

Latest News

  1. 'World is watching', as MEPs vote on green finance rules
  2. Turkey sends mixed signals on Sweden's entry into Nato
  3. EU Parliament sued over secrecy on Nazi MEP expenses
  4. Italy glacier tragedy has 'everything to do' with climate change
  5. The Digital Services Act — a case-study in keeping public in dark
  6. Report slams German opposition to new child sexual abuse rules
  7. Is China a challenge to Nato? Beijing responds
  8. ECB announces major green shift in corporate bond-buying

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us