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European Court of Justice

UK says it will 'take back control of its laws' after Brexit

The British government wants to end the direct jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice in the UK.

UK Prime Minister Theresa May UK Prime Minister Theresa May Steve Parsons / PA Archive/PA Images Steve Parsons / PA Archive/PA Images / PA Archive/PA Images

THE BRITISH GOVERNMENT is to set out its guiding principles as it moves towards ending the direct jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice (ECJ) in the United Kingdom after Brexit.

A “future partnership paper” drawn up by the UK government will:

  • Reinforce the message that after Brexit the UK will take back control of its laws
  • Make it clear it is “not necessary or appropriate” for the ECJ to have direct jurisdiction over a non-member state and say that such an arrangement would be unprecedented
  • Provide examples of existing ways of resolving disputes in international agreements, without the ECJ having direct jurisdiction
  • Outline some guiding principles behind the UK’s approach, including “maximising certainty for individuals and businesses” and continuing to respect Britain’s international legal obligations

In a statement released today, the British government said: “The paper will be clear that as part of the deep and special partnership the UK seeks with the EU, it is in the interests of both sides that the rights and obligations agreed between the two can be relied upon and enforced easily, for example, by EU citizens in the UK courts, or UK nationals in the courts of EU member states.”

The paper will also examine “a variety of precedents for resolving disputes that may arise between the UK and the EU which help to demonstrate that it is normal for the EU to reach agreements with third countries without the CJEU (ECJ) having direct jurisdiction over them”.

The UK government has said the document will “make the point that the exact form of enforcement and dispute resolution is often tailored to the content of the agreement and varies across different issues such as trade or security”.

It will also say that there is no precedent driven by EU, UK or international law which demands that enforcement or dispute resolution of the UK-EU agreements fall under the direct jurisdiction of the ECJ.


Ahead of the paper’s publication, 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 in the interests of both the UK and the EU, and of our citizens and businesses, that the rights and obligations agreed between us can be relied upon and enforced in appropriate ways.

“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.”

The document has been criticised by the opposition in the UK. Shadow Brexit secretary Sir Keir Starmer, a Labour MP, said the proposals could have a negative impact on Brexit negotiations.

Starmer told Sky News: “Any final deal with the EU that protects jobs and the economy will require an effective and robust dispute resolution mechanism.

“This will inevitably involve some form of independent court. The Prime Minister’s ideological insistence that there can be no future role whatsoever for the ECJ or any similar court-like body risks preventing the deal Britain needs.”


Meanwhile, speaking to RTÉ News, Foreign Affairs Minister Simon Coveney again stressed the desire to avoid a hard border between the Republic and Northern Ireland post-Brexit.

Coveney said the negotiations must aim secure “an outcome than can allow normality, as we currently enjoy it”.

During a visit to Canada, Toiseach Leo Varadkar yesterday visited a section on the US-Canadian border, which has been cited as a possible model for any future Irish border.

Speaking after the visit, Varadkar said: “It’s high tech and highly efficient, but make no mistake – it’s a hard border.”

Read: Varadkar tells US TV he’s ‘confused and puzzled’ by Britain’s trading plans

Read: Is ‘Republic of Opportunity’ the new ‘Keep the Recovery Going’?

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