Seminar ‘To Brexit or not to Brexit? Legal Implications of the UK’s EU Referendum”

Published 29 June 2016

On 14 June 2016, T.M.C. Asser Instituut hosted the event “To Brexit or not to Brexit? Legal Implications of the UK’s EU Referendum”. After a short introduction by the chairperson Wybe Douma, addressing the myth that ‘80 percent of national law is EU law’, Prof. Laurence Gormley from the University of Groningen and Dr Davor Jancic focused on the legal procedures involved in a British exit from the European Union as well as the legal implications for both the UK and the European Union of both Leave and Remain scenarios.

Prof. Gormley spoke about the procedure under Article 50 TEU for Member States to withdraw from the Union. He elaborated on the specific steps that would have to be undertaken if the UK decided to leave the EU, and noted that there are some uncertainties as to the exact procedure vis-à-vis the ability of British MEPs to vote, as well as the involvement of the UK in the European Council. Furthermore, he pointed out that laws passed under EU directives will not necessarily be repealed, and that UK courts will no longer regard the jurisprudence of CJEU as decisive in future UK cases.

Dr Jancic first discussed some of the arguments put forward by both the Leave and Remain campaigns. He indicated that citizens in the UK are not basing their decision on economic facts, but rather on the idea of identity. With regard to exit plans for the UK, Dr Jancic discussed the possible routes that the UK could pursue in its negotiations, varying from the possibility to join the EEA to negotiating a series of treaties like Switzerland. He also discussed the future situation regarding the withdrawal agreement. The position of Scotland was also discussed, as well as the possibility that Northern Ireland could strive for independence as well.

The event was closed by a series of questions taken from the audience. These included several ambassadors and embassy staff from a wide selection of EU and non-EU countries, academics and others. The audience also participated in a hypothetical Brexit vote. The outcome of this vote was unanimously to have the UK remain in the EU, in contrast to the actual vote of 23 June.