The Department for Exiting the European Union (DExEU) pledged to bring ultimate control over our laws back “within our domestic legal context” including making the Supreme Court the top authority once more.
However, the 12-page dossier is extremely light on detail and contains no vision for how disputes between the EU and UK will be resolved after Brexit – something bound to irritate eurocrats.
And it also leaves the door well and truly open for future compliance with some EU legislation, which would simply need to be written onto the British statute books after our exit.
The paper lays out a series of options for future legal relations between the two parties beyond March 2019, ranging from using the EFTA Court right through to a Canada-style arbitration system.
However, it makes clear the options are listed “purely illustratively, and without any commitment to include any specific aspects in the design of our future partnership”.
Its distinct lack of clarity is likely to promote dismay in Brussels, where officials have been keenly awaiting some form of concrete proposal on what Britain plans to replace the ECJ with.
But elsewhere the dossier is more forthright, making clear the bloc’s position that the ECJ must continue to police the rights of EU citizens in Britain is unacceptable.
The paper makes it clear that the UK views the policing of citizens’ rights and resolving national level disputes between the two parties as “two distinct issues” adding “it is not necessary, or indeed common, for one body to carry out both functions in this way”.
It states: “There is no precedent, and indeed no imperative driven by EU, UK or international law, which demands that enforcement or dispute resolution of future UK-EU agreements falls under the direct jurisdiction of the CJEU.
“The UK will take steps to implement and enforce our agreements with the EU within our domestic legal context. This will include providing for the appropriate means by which individuals and Businesses can rely on and enforce rights contained in any agreements.
“The UK’s position is that where the Withdrawal Agreement or future relationship agreements between the UK and the EU are intended to give rise to rights or obligations for individuals and Businesses operating within the UK then, where appropriate, these will be given effect in UK law.
“Those rights or obligations will be enforced by the UK courts and ultimately by the UK Supreme Court. UK individuals and Businesses operating within the EU should similarly be provided with means to enforce their rights and obligations within the EU’s legal order and through the courts of the remaining 27 Member States.”
This position was immediately rejected by the EU parliament’s Brexit rapporteur, Guy Verhofstadt, who tweeted: “UK Government wants to keep ‘half an eye’ on ECJ rulings. European Parliament thinks ECJ must keep both eyes open to protect citizens’ rights.”
The dossier contains numerous references to both the European Economic Area (EEA) agreement and the European Free Trade Association (Efta) as ways in which the EU cooperates closely with near neighbours.
This is likely to raise fears amongst hard Brexiteers of a watering down of the referendum result, with many opposed to any agreement which allows the continued implementation of EU law in Britain.
Equally it brings up the possibility of setting up an international dispute resolution system, like the one included in the bloc’s trade deal with Canada, on which both British and EU judges would sit.
However, the EU’s commercial pacts with countries like Canada and Japan are much less comprehensive than Single Market access, and do not meet the Government’s ambition for a “deep and special partnership”.
Source : EXPRESS