Is Article 50 Reversible? On Politics Beyond Legal Doctrine

Can the United Kingdom, once it has declared its withdrawal from the EU, revoke this decision later on? This question is at the core of the ongoing case before the UK Supreme Court on Art. 50 TEU. I argue that revocability fits neatly in the letter and spirit of article 50 because of formal and substantive reasons. I further content that the Supreme Court decision may create a bifurcation in which interpretation of a key TEU provision may become purely an issue of domestic law. However, I further content that actors' political decisions have progressively framed a situation in which revocability does not seem politically possible.

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From Greenland to Svalbard: Scotland’s quest for a differentiated Brexit

On 20 December 2016, the Scottish Government released its blueprint on how Scotland can remain in the European Single Market post-Brexit. From the governing SNP’s point of view, the paper can be seen as a compromise given that it does not advocate Scottish independence. Instead, it proposes that the best outcome for the UK as a whole is to remain in the European Economic Agreement following the ‘Norway model’. It recognises, however, that in the current political constellation this seems unlikely. So, it argues for the continued membership of Scotland in the European Single Market.

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Brexit and the Single Market: You say Article 50, we say Article 127?

Hard on the heels of the Article 50 case heard last week by the UK Supreme Court, comes the announcement of another challenge to the UK Government’s Brexit plans, this time based on Article 127 of the EEA agreement. Much like Article 50 TEU, that provision allows contracting parties to the EEA agreement to withdraw from it. The claimants in the Article 127 challenge contend that withdrawal from the EU under Article 50 will not lead to withdrawal from the EEA, given that with Article 127 the EEA agreement contains its own termination clause. Hence their argument goes that unless the Government also triggers Article 127, the UK will stay in the EEA even after Brexit; and that would mean that the UK would remain in the single market. Much like the Article 50 case, the impending court case therefore seeks a declaration by the High Court that the Government cannot trigger Article 127 without prior approval of Parliament. The claimants’ hope is that while Parliament may feel politically bound by the EU referendum result to allow the Government to leave the EU, it may not vote in favour of leaving the EEA, viz. the single market, as this was not a question on the ballot paper. It is the aim of this blogpost to identify the three main hurdles the claimants are likely to be facing and discuss whether these can be overcome.

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How the UK passed the most invasive surveillance law in democratic history

You might not have noticed thanks to world events, but the UK parliament recently approved the government’s so-called Snooper’s Charter and it will soon become law. This nickname for the Investigatory Powers Bill is well earned. It represents a new level and nature of surveillance that goes beyond anything previously set out in law in a democratic society. It is not a modernisation of existing law, but something qualitatively different, something that intrudes upon every UK citizen’s life in a way that would even a decade ago have been inconceivable.

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Scotland, Catalonia and the Constitutional Taboo of Secession

The UK constitution does not allow Scotland to unilaterally secede in the case of Brexit – in that respect its situation is not unlike Catalonia’s. Given the political nature of the UK uncodified constitution, it is almost unthinkable that a similar judicialisation of politics will occur in the UK as it did in Spain. However, unless Westminster takes seriously into account the demands of the devolved administrations in the Brexit negotiations, there is a real danger that a serious constitutional stalemate will occur.

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Wahlkreisreform in UK: die Neuvermessung des Mehrheitswahlrechts

Wahlkreisreformen sind oft eine anrüchige Sache. Die Regierungsmehrheit gerät leicht in den Verdacht, sich die Wahlkreise zu ihrem eigenen Vorteil zurechtzuschneiden. Auch in Großbritannien gibt es laute Proteste der Opposition gegen die aktuellen Reformpläne der Tories. Doch wenn man genauer hinsieht, zeigt sich: die Demokratie im Vereinigten Königreich wird eher profitieren.

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The Big Picture

In Europe, UK, and USA constitutional structures are proving unfit to respond to the challenges of the XXI century. Now is the time to ride on the constitutional moment for the all three of them.

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On the Slippery Slope to a ,People’s Court'

Writes Matej Avbelj in High time for popular constitutionalism!, ‘The majority in our societies seems to be increasingly disconnected with the liberal values that especially the legal academia, but also the ruling political class – at least on a declaratory level – have taken for granted…’ Living as I do in the country in which one sees an increasing distaste for the European Convention of Human Rights and regular media criticism of the ‘unelected judges’ in Strasbourg – and that despite the fact that the judges of the Court are, in fact, elected from a slate of three by the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe – I cannot help wondering whether the disconnect is anything very new.

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Miller, Brexit and the (maybe not to so evil) Court of Justice

As strange as this might sound, hardcore Brexiteers have now their closest and most reliable ally not at home. But in what they have considered to be, all these years, the evil, monstrous, devilish, undemocratic, unelected, corrupt and dictatorial Court of Justice of the European Union.

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The Article 50 Litigation and the Court of Justice: Why the Supreme Court must NOT refer

Is the UK Supreme Court in the current Brexit case obliged to refer to the Luxembourg Court? If that were the case, the conformity of any Member State’s EU exit with its own constitutional requirements would be open to review by the CJEU – and hence could no longer be qualified as an act of self-determination since a EU institution would have the final say on it.

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