Erasmus days 2020

Brexit, EU and international law: a ménage à trois

15 October 2020
15:00h CET

In the beginning of September 2020, the UK Government had proposed a new bill that could potentially violate international law. The proposed bill would give the UK Parliament the power to breach the Brexit Withdrawal Agreement (2018) in a way that has been described as ‘very specific and limited’, in the words of the Northern Ireland’s Secretary Brandon Lewis. Should the UK use its new internal market bill, they would be in violation of an international agreement and thus, international law.

But what does it mean to break international law ‘just a little bit’? The somewhat provocative title of this panel aims to focus our attention on different aspects of Brexit, including its different legal dimensions. The recent internal market bill proposed by the UK provides a springboard for our discussion, which explores the legal and political dimensions of the relationship between UK, EU and international law.

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Programme:

Introduction and facilitation: Peter Goldschmidt

Interventions by:
• Petra Jeney
• Igor Dizdarevic
• Clara Cotroneo
• Diego Ramirez Cardenas

Our discussion will focus on the following topics:

1. UK-EU pre- and post-Brexit relations: UK Parliamentary sovereignty and EU integration. The speakers will focus their intervention on the UK’s opt-in-opt out strategy from EU legal acts through the years

  • UK-EU relationship pre-Brexit: this short contribution focuses on the topic of Brexit and Parliamentary sovereignty, covering the UK’s conflictual position vis-à-vis EU membership and integration, visible from the negotiations for the Schengen Agreement, the Treaty of Amsterdam, the Lisbon Treaty and the European Union Act.
  • The UK’s participation in the European Union’s Area of Freedom, Security and Justice (AFSJ), with a focus on the UK’s opt-outs from EU immigration measures and how sovereignty in migration was (and is) a catalyst for Brexit. The objective of this brief intervention is to look at how opt-out schemes -the right not to participate in EU policies – can be interpreted as an engine for European dis-integration.

2. The legal basis of Brexit: Article 50: invoking EU law to exit the Union

  • Article 50: The EU is not the USSR because Member States can leave freely
  • However, exiting is a procedure consisting of several steps where the objective is to settle the divorce as well as the future relationship
  • Why we are looking at a probable no-deal
  • Lessons learned from the Wightman case: how can a decision to leave the EU be revoked?

3. Brexit at the intersection of European and international law: what happens if the UK violates international law?

  • What is the nature of the EU-UK Withdrawal Agreement and the UK Internal market bill under international law?
  • Why the UK Internal market bill is to be framed as a violation of international law and who is the final arbiter in that regard?
  • What scenarios can be envisaged in an international law – European law- national law clash?
    • How does the EU conclude international agreements?
    • What is the status of international agreements in EU law?

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