August 23, 2017 / 2:43 PM / a year ago

Factbox: Britain's paper on ending EU court supremacy

LONDON (Reuters) - Britain has outlined its stance on how disputes with the European Union should be resolved after Brexit, in a politically sensitive paper published on Wednesday.

The entrance of the European Court of Justice is pictured in Luxembourg, January 26, 2017. REUTERS/Francois Lenoir

The paper attempts to deal with one of the most thorny issues in divorce negotiations with the EU, and ranges from laying down red lines to the non-committal tabling of talking points.

Here are some of the key elements:


The paper reiterates the government’s position that the ECJ should no longer have “direct jurisdiction” in Britain after it leaves the EU in March 2019.

Citizens’ rights - which the EU argues must be guaranteed by the ECJ - would instead be enforced by the UK courts and ultimately the UK Supreme Court.

However, in cases involving the thousands of EU laws due to be transposed into UK law, the paper says pre-Brexit decisions by the ECJ should have the same status in Britain as UK Supreme Court decisions even after Britain leaves.

The UK will “engage constructively” to negotiate an agreement on the future role of the ECJ, and one that satisfies both the UK and the EU.


The paper offers examples of alternative dispute resolution mechanisms used in other international agreements which do not require the direct jurisdiction of the Luxembourg-based ECJ over other countries.

It said they had been included “purely illustratively”.

They include:

- Agreements between the EU and Moldova and the European Economic Area, which make use of concepts from EU law. Disputes can be referred to the ECJ for its interpretation.

- Other trade agreements, such as NAFTA, in which a committee is formed with equal representation of all parties. These can be supported by officials from all sides in “technical groups”.

- Trade agreements between the EU and Canada and the EU and Vietnam, which detail provisions for arbitration, such as the creation of an arbitration panel. However the paper said such a panel would not have the power to rule on interpretations of EU law.

- The European Economic Area agreement, and that between the EU and Iceland and Norway. They require parties to keep up to date with new ECJ decisions, so that these can be taken into account in disputes centered on provisions that are identical to EU law.

- A number of international deals which allow parties to seek compensation, suspend all or part of an agreement, retaliate or take measures to protect their own interests if one party violates the terms or a dispute settlement.

The paper repeatedly stressed that the only model without precedent would be one in which the highest court of one party acts as the main arbiter for disputes with another - a scenario Britain says would be the case if it remained under the “direct jurisdiction” of the ECJ.

Reporting by Emma Rumney; editing by Andrew Roche

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