The UK Can Unilaterally Stop Brexit, EU Court Rules

The UK can unilaterally stop the Brexit process, the European Court of Justice has ruled.

GAME CHANGERS
The UK can unilaterally stop the Brexit process, the European Court of Justice has ruled. The judgement came the day before the decisive vote in the UK Parliament on Theresa May’s Brexit deal.

The court concluded that any EU member state can revoke an article 50 process without needing approval from every other member state.

“The United Kingdom is free to revoke unilaterally the notification of its intention to withdraw from the EU,” the ECJ said.

The judges rejected arguments from both the UK government and the European commission that article 50, the two-year-long process that triggers a member state’s departure from the EU, could not be revoked unilaterally.

A spokeswoman for the court said that any revocation “must be decided following a democratic process in accordance with national constitutional requirements”.

Monday’s decision upheld a finding by the ECJ advocate general, Manuel Campos Sánchez-Bordona, who said last week that article 50 of the Lisbon treaty allows the “unilateral revocation of the notification of the intention to withdraw from the EU, until such time as the withdrawal agreement is formally concluded”.

He rejected the contention that the mechanism for a member state to quit the trade bloc could only be reversed following a unanimous decision of the European council.

After fast-tracking its review, the ECJ said it should remain the sovereign right of a member state to cancel its withdrawal application before it came into force, in the same way it had a right to start the withdrawal process.

In another boost to remain campaigners, the court added that if the UK did abandon Brexit, it should have no effect on the terms of its membership.

it means that the UK can preserve it’s existing opt-outs on the social chapter, the Schengen internal security treaty, its greater flexibility on VAT rules and its decision not to join the euro.

The court said: “The revocation by a member state of the notification of its intention to withdraw reflects a sovereign decision to retain its status as a member state of the European Union, a status which is neither suspended nor altered by that notification.”

The judges said the European commission had no right to block a decision by the UK to abandon the Brexit process, since that amounted to the EU forcing a member state to leave against its will.

Published: December 10, 2018