This is not the End: What lies ahead for the VDL Commission in terms of Brexit

Brexit is the ‘shock’ that united Europe according to the President-elect of the Commission, Ursula von der Leyen. There’s certainly an element of truth to this. Despite some occasional signs of disagreement, the EU-27 have given every show of maintaining a unified position in all stages of the Brexit process so far. There may be a tempting political expediency of prioritising a unified position on Brexit (no doubt in ‘protection of the European project as a whole’) above holding individual Member States’ governments’ to account for measures which further and entrench rule of law backsliding. This post aims to outline only some of those challenges, and highlight outstanding issues, in the years of the Brexit process ahead.

Continue Reading →

Johnson’s Withdrawal Agreement Fails Romanian and Bulgarian Migrant Workers

Romanian and Bulgarian nationals might not be British workers, but they are nevertheless workers. And both the EU and the UK have an ethical responsibility to outline provisions so that Brexit does not further marginalize the very same group of workers who already face discrimination in the British labour market.

Continue Reading →

Scotland, Brexit and Independence

The past month has been important for Brexit developments, with UK Prime Minister Johnson attempting a ‘last minute’ Brexit deal with the EU. In particular, arrangements concerning Northern Ireland have featured prominently. But now, all appears to have been set aside for a December UK general election. However, the UK is composed of four nations, and Scotland’s position in the UK union, often ignored in the Brexit context, now appears near to ‘tipping point’, especially after First Minister Sturgeon’s recent  confirmation that Scotland would hold an independence referendum in 2020.

Continue Reading →

Article 50 TEU as Legal Basis for Future Relations?

Whatever form Brexit takes (if it takes place), it will have major legal, economic, practical and political consequences. An extension of the withdrawal date will probably provide sufficient time for much needed scrutiny of the new Brexit Deal negotiated between UK and the EU. It is in that light welcome that calls for examination by both the House of Commons and the European Parliament are now raised. An issue that has however not come up yet is whether the Withdrawal Agreement complies with Article 50 TEU – a failure which might have profound consequences.

Continue Reading →

Fools Rush Out

Few actions when done quickly are done well – and law-making has certainly never been one of them. Late in the evening of 22 October, the House of Commons was asked to approve of a legislative programme which would only have allowed it three days to consider, debate and amend a law which is bound to radically alter the constitutional, political, and economic foundations of the UK. This programme was rightly rejected.

Continue Reading →

Brexit, Democracy and Peace in Northern Ireland

How to give the people of Northern Ireland a democratic say over the new legal arrangements that will apply to them under the Withdrawal Agreement? Given the deeply divided nature of Northern Irish society, this is a legal, political and constitutional conundrum. The WA, exceptionally for an EU/international treaty, sets out a complex mechanism regulating how the Northern Ireland Assembly may vote in the future to grant or withhold democratic consent to the terms of the WA as it applies to Northern Ireland. However, this mechanism may yet prove to be a recipe for future political conflict.

Continue Reading →

Why the European Council Must not Reject an Article 50 Extension Request

As a matter of EU law, the European Council is not entitled to refuse the United Kingdom’s request for an extension, in the present circumstances. The decision to ask for an extension emanates from the United Kingdom’s highest authority, its sovereign Parliament. It is a democratic decision which the EU must respect, for else it would be expelling a Member State against its own sovereign and democratic will.

Continue Reading →

The People Have Voted, Now Let the People Speak

The Brexit stalemate is unlikely to wither. In a smart spin, distracting from the unlawfulness of the Parliament shutdown, the blame for not delivering Brexit is now put on the Parliament. The Parliament and “the establishment” are pitted against the will of the people. Since the 2016 referendum, however, provided for no clear procedural or substantive mandate, no form of Brexit, including remain, can claim its legitimacy based on the “will of the people” unless there is a second referendum.

Continue Reading →