UK accepts ‘close’ ECJ relationship

LONDON • Theresa May’s government will accept a “close cooperative relationship” with the European Court of Justice (ECJ), in which both past and future rulings would still apply to the UK in a concession aimed at accelerating Brexit talks.

This is a retreat from the prime minister’s pre-election rhetoric about ending the court’s jurisdiction over Britain. A position paper published yesterday suggested the government was open to monitoring European Union (EU) case law, abiding by past ECJ rulings, taking future ones into account, and even referring decisions to it.

“There are a number of ways in which it will be possible to deal with dispute resolution in the future,” May told television broadcasters. “The purpose of our paper is to show that we have thought about what that might be; we’ll now obviously go into negotiations with the European Commission to discuss what is the best way forward.” While May has said she doesn’t want to copy any other country’s relationship with the EU, the latest policy outlines point to the pursuit of model like the European Free Trade Association that has separate tribunal resolving disputes.

“Our own position is very clear, is very transparent, and is unchanged,” European Commission spokesman Alexander Winterstein told reporters in Brussels. In other words, the agreed priorities to tackle in the talks remain the UK’s financial obligations, citizens’ rights and the Irish border.

“It is about having a balanced process where both sides could have confidence,” Justice Minister Dominic Raab told the BBC. “It is not about one side imposing its will on the other.”

The government paper ruled out the idea of the ECJ having “direct jurisdiction” over the UK. — Bloomberg