United Kingdom seeks to end 'direct' authority of European Union court

The paper rightly says that in no other case does the EU insist on the supremacy of EU law, including case law and interpretations issued by the European Court of Justice (ECJ).

One of a slew of position papers being released by DExEU before the third round of formal Brexit talks in Brussels next week, the new document insists that it is "normal" for the European Union to strike agreements with third countries without the ECJ having direct jurisdiction over enforcement and dispute resolution.

"We are not leaving [the EU] only to return to the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice - that's not going to happen", she said.

"In nearly every example the Government gives - from the EFTA Court, to the EEA Agreement to the EU-Montenegro deal - the ECJ has substantial direct or indirect power over the proposed new relationship between Britain and the EU".

'What we will be able to do is to make our own laws'.

Global arbitration expert Mathew Rea, partner at Bryan Cave LLP, said that the proposals mark a retreat from the previous stance that there could be no future role for the ECJ in post-Brexit Britain.

One of those is the U.K.'s desire, newly expressed today by Theresa May, to "take back control of our laws".

Exactly what conclusions the Government has reached will become more clear when we see the position paper later this week.


The DExEU document states that Britain's aim is to "maximise certainty" for individuals and businesses and to ensure that they can "effectively enforce their rights in a timely way", while respecting the autonomy of United Kingdom and European Union legal systems.

The British Supreme Court will be the ultimate arbiter of law in the United Kingdom after Brexit, Prime Minister Theresa May has said.

A "narrow" approach to goods like agricultural products or food would risk "significant legal uncertainty and potential disruption for businesses and consumers both in the United Kingdom and the EU", the paper warned. "This paper takes the next steps as we prepare to negotiate our approach to this", they added.

Greener UK chair executive director Shaun Spiers said: "A week may be a long time in politics, but environmental processes unfold over years and decades". The ECJ plays a key role in essentially arbitrating the single market - settling disputes between member countries, for example - so accepting that the ECJ might play some, indirect role in influencing British law after Brexit makes the possibility of a deal more likely.

The position that ECJ's "direct jurisdiction" will end appears to fall short of May's previous pledges and may anger hardline Tory Brexiteers.

The study, commissioned by leading British airports including London's Heathrow and Gatwick, said flights could be grounded and Britain's economy would be hit without a guarantee of future access to the EU's single aviation market.

Former Labour Cabinet Minister Lord Adonis, supporter of the anti-Brexit group Open Britain, said: "Not much is left of David Davis's so-called "red line" of taking back control from European judges".

  • Tracy Klein