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May softens ECJ pledge to cut ties: PM paves way for Norwegian model of ‘indirect’ EU rule

DAVID Davis will today make clear that Britain believes it is neither necessary nor appropriate for the European Court of Justice to continue having a direct say in UK affairs after Brexit but that indirectly the court may still have jurisdiction.

His Department for Exiting the European Union will spell out “guiding principles” for Britain to take back control of its laws from Brussels.It will say that examples from around the world prove post-Brexit Britain can resolve disputes with the EU without the ECJ having “direct jurisdiction”.

But in what may alarm some euro-sceptics, officials have not yet ruled out some indirect role for the Luxembourg court in future disputes involving the UK, because it will remain the “ultimate arbiter” of EU law within the bloc.

In a sign that May is willing to compromise, the government will today say that it only wants to ensure there is no direct rule.

It will pave the way for Britain to follow non-EU countries like Norway under the EFTA court rather than the ECJ.

Whiel Norway is not under ECJ direct rule, as a member of EFTA it interprets European laws and ECJ decisions among members of the EFTA area.

In return Norway has access to the single market.

The EFTA court can overrule the Norwegian supreme court – although its judgments are advisory.

Wes Streeting, Labour MP

Britain’s stance on dispute resolution will be set out today in the latest of a series of papers the UK is producing to inform future negotiations with the EU on different aspects of future relations.They aim to help push Brexit talks with the EU on from issues about Britain’s actual withdrawal from the bloc – which Brexit Secretary Mr Davis will discuss again next week with EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier – towards fleshing out a vision of constructive partnership after we actually leave.

Today’s paper examines how rights and obligations could be enforced and legal and political disputes resolved once the UK fulfils Theresa May’s pledge to free itself from the shackles of the ECJ.

David DavisGETTY

David Davis will make clear the ECJ has no place in UK after Brexit


It will state that having the ECJ retaining “direct jurisdiction” over a non-EU member state would be unprecedented and it will show that it is “normal” for the bloc to make deals with other countries without the Court having any direct role.The paper will stress that it is in both sides’ interests to ensure rights and obligations can be relied upon by EU citizens in British courts and vice versa.

A UK government spokesperson said: “We have long been clear that in leaving the EU we will bring an end to the direct jurisdiction of the Court of Justice of the European Union in the UK.

“It is also in everyone’s interest that, where disputes arise between the UK and the EU on the application or interpretation of these obligations, those disputes can be resolved efficiently and effectively.”This paper takes the next steps as we prepare to engage constructively to negotiate our approach to this.”

Today in a separate paper the Government warned the EU will make it harder for its own citizens and businesses as well as the UK’s to secure justice in cross-border legal disputes if it refuses to enter a new cooperation deal with Britain.

David Davis and Michel BarnierGETTY

EU could make it harder for citizens and businesses to secure justice in cross-border disputes


Britain believes cases like cross-border divorce and child custody battles, as well as firms’ efforts to secure redress from overseas companies and consumers seeking redress for faulty imported goods, could be messier and lengthier unless the two sides agree to maintain current close judicial cooperation in civil cases.The UK wants to mirror the current “sophisticated” EU system for deciding which country’s court hears cross-border disputes, whose laws should apply and how any decision is enforced.

Without agreement, Britain would fall back on other international rules which could be slower and less effective.

Types of cases involved include divorce between a Briton and an EU national, rows over child support and custody and instances where someone takes their child to another country against the other parent’s wishes or court rulings.

David DavisGETTY

Britain could fall back on other slower and less effective international rules without an agreement


The paper said: “A close cooperative relationship between the legal systems of the UK and the EU is of mutual importance…”The optimum outcome for both sides will be an agreement reflecting our close existing relationship, where litigating a cross-border case involving UK and EU parties under civil law will be easier, cheaper and more efficient for all involved.”

Earlier, Justice Secretary David Lidington said  an “even closer set of cooperative arrangements” with the EU would be best for both sides which each argue they want to put their citizens first.

He told the BBC: “If you are a German wife divorcing a British husband, if you are a British parent whose kids have been taken to Greece, if you are a Swede who’s bought from a British company online and think you’ve been diddled in the deal, you want redress, you want this sorted out, you want it sorted out swiftly without bureaucracy.

“And that’s why you need a system where the different European countries have a set of arrangements that means it’s easy, straightforward, transparent to decide which court determines the outcome.”Anti-Brexit Labour MP Wes Streeting said: “The Government’s hypocrisy on this issue is mind-boggling.

“It is they, not the EU, who have said repeatedly that no deal is better than a bad deal. And yet now they admit that a Brexit with no deal on judicial co-operation could put British children in legal limbo.

“Ministers need to drop their absurd rhetoric about no deal, and focus on negotiating an agreement with the EU that guarantees British families and children will not lose rights and protections as a result of Brexit.”

Eurosceptic MP Jacob Rees-Mogg told the Times: “The key point is that there should not be any direct effect of decisions by any news tribunal on the UK. As long as that is the case, it is a matter of detail, not principle.”

http://www.express.co.uk/news/politics/844529/david-davis-brexit-talks-ECJ-rule-end-agreement

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