Join the Roquetas de Mar forum

Join the Roquetas de Mar forumMy name's Jan and this is my website all about Roquetas de Mar in Spain. Register now for free to talk about Brexit and the EU: living, holidaying and moving to Roquetas de Mar and much more!

Trick or Treaty? The legal issues of the second extension of the UK’s EU membership


Posted: Mon Apr 15, 2019 8:52pm
0 replies46 views2 members subscribed


Helpful member

Posts: 240

Location: Roquetas de Mar

187 helpful posts

Key points - from Professor Steve Peers, University of Essex

1. The Halloween date of 31 October was not chosen for scary implications: it’s the last day in office of the current European Commission. Ending the UK’s membership therefore avoids a new UK Commissioner taking office.There’s no formal role for the European Parliament or national parliaments. Article 50(3) is silent on whether or not there can be multiple extensions, but obviously the EU and UK assume that this is legally possible.
2. The first extension decision provided for two variations for extending membership beyond the original Brexit Day of 29 March 2019, depending on whether the House of Commons approved the proposed withdrawal agreement by that date. If that had happened, UK membership would have been extended until 22 May 2019. Since it did not happen, the second variation applied: membership was extended for only two weeks to 12 April 2019, and the UK had to ‘indicate a way forward before 12 April 2019.
3. This is because 22 May is the last day before the elections, and 12 April was the last day to give notice of the poll in the UK. There was a legal debate over whether the UK could be exempted from taking part in these elections but the EU has taken the view that there cannot be an exception.
4. The preamble explicitly observes that the UK can revoke its notification of intention to leave the EU unilaterally. The Court has confirmed that the UK remains a fully-fledged Member State throughout the main two-year period after notifying its intention to leave the EU. In other words: 'Membership means Membership'?
5. However, the preamble to the second extension decision conversely rows back on this in that it also refers to the principle of ‘sincere cooperation’ applicable to all Member States. The wording suggests that this principle might apply differently as regards a withdrawing Member State. The preamble states that - "The European Council takes note of the commitment by the United Kingdom to act in a constructive and responsible manner throughout the extension period in accordance with the duty of sincere cooperation, and expects the United Kingdom to fulfil this commitment and Treaty obligation in a manner that reflects its situation as a withdrawing Member State. To this effect, the United Kingdom shall facilitate the achievement of the Union’s tasks and shall refrain from any measure which could jeopardise the attainment of the Union’s objectives, in particular when participating in decision-making processes of the Union." So the EU says that the UK must be a full Member State for the purposes of the European Parliament elections, but not exactly a full Member State for some other purposes.
6. Member States do not have a veto on the major appointments to the EU institutions to be made later this year: Juncker became Commission President despite the UK’s opposition (joined by Hungary), and Tusk was re-elected as European Council President despite the opposition of Poland. There’s no veto on appointing the rest of the Commission this autumn either.
7. The European Council conclusions note that the EU27 can meet informally without the UK: "the 27 Member States and the Commission, where appropriate together with other institutions, bodies, offices and agencies of the Union, will continue to meet separately at all levels to discuss matters related to the situation after the withdrawal of the United Kingdom."

8. The Commission, EP and CJEU do not act by unanimous vote, and the EU institutions’ rules of procedure don’t provide for filibustering (i.e. discussing an issue endlessly to stop debate). Farage rarely shows up for long enough to filibuster anyway. The possibility for obstruction exists more in the Council (made up of ministers) and the European Council (made up of Presidents and Prime Ministers). The Council usually (but not always) decides by qualified majority voting (QMV), while the opposite is true of the European Council. UK abstentions would in effect count as a vote against. However, it’s rare that so many Member States oppose a proposal that the UK has the swing vote.
9. The UK could block everything where it has a veto. This particularly applies to taxation, accession to the EU, Treaty amendment, foreign and defence policy, and major decisions on the budget. But budget decisions are due to be agreed after the second extension decision will have run its course.
10. An extension to October leaves just enough time for a referendum, and lots of time for a general election. It also leaves enough time for a Tory party leadership contest, although a new Prime Minister would, without an election, face the same arithmetic in the Commons, regardless of their Brexit views. While the Tory party formally cannot challenge its leader before December, it may try to find a way to do so indirectly. The results of local elections at the start of May and (if held) European Parliament elections at the end of May might alter the political dynamics. A new Queen’s Speech is due in June, which will entail the Tory party renegotiating its confidence and supply arrangement with the DUP, as well as yet another opportunity to submit the withdrawal agreement to the vote.

11. As for the impact on EU/UK relations, the European Council conclusions expressly state a willingness to renegotiate the non-binding political declaration on the relationship. Renegotiating the latter depends on successful conclusions of talks between the Conservative and Labour parties, which many believe is an unlikely prospect. A general election might change the situation, but the government is not keen. There might remain a lack of a parliamentary majority for anything else (simple revocation, no deal, another referendum) if there’s no election. Only time will tell if the UK can find any way out of the current Brexit deadlock.


Sign up for free or login to reply to this topic

Want to reply to this topic? Login or register for free to post your message:

Related topics


Popular topics this week in Roquetas de Mar

Travelling with dogs

Animals and pets in Roquetas de Mar

Hi, I’ll be travelling with my 3 dogs to Spain over the next few months, do they have to have sepa...

2 replies and 1 helpful posts

Studio/One bed apartment to rent?

General property discussion in Roquetas de Mar

Hi all...Very quiet, teetotal man, (Retired professional), 70 years of age, no 'pets', family or chi...

4 replies

Other recommended topics

Register for free!

Login to your account

IPTV in Spain
Pineapple Kitchens and Bathrooms
Almeria translation services
Advertise your business here