Archive for: January 2013

What leaving the EU would mean for the UK legal system

The vast majority of UK law originates from the European Union. It is estimated that 80% of law currently in action in the UK has derived from the EU, and therefore a British withdrawal would mean huge changes for the UK legislation system.

The signing of the Treaty of Lisbon resulted in a mechanism by which states could withdraw from the EU, as pre-2007, this was next to impossible. This treaty amended the EU founding treaties.

As the UK legislation is heavily derived from the EU, leaving the EU would have a huge effect on the system.  These impacts would begin with the ceasing of the Treaties (TEU and TFEU), which would include as part of those, the fundamental freedoms (movement of labour, capital and goods/services). This would result in the protection of UK citizens living in or intending to live in an EU state vanishing. Residents of the UK will require visas to visit member states, and the rights that derive from the fundamental freedoms and apply in UK courts will be taken from UK citizens.

The whole efficiency of judicial rulings, or case law, would have to be revisited. These were decided and confirmed after a preliminary reference procedure. These case laws are sometimes referred to the Court of Justice of the EU of a question regarding EU law, and this clearly could not occur following a British withdrawal.

Currently, national legislation in the UK is adopted to obey the EU Directives. This could potentially be repealed or amended, depending on which is more beneficial to the UK. Unfortunately, assessing the costs and benefits of keeping those provisions will be a huge and difficult task (given the great number of measures and the methods of how the UK has handled the EU Directive). Arguably, the Financial Regulation and Company Law would be the highest priority measures to be revised. But even these would take years, as revising them would simply add huge amounts of pressure to the workload of the UK Departments and Parliament. Taking on new measures and changing old laws just is not feasible given the current circumstances.

This article was contributed by the LawNinja.

David Cameron on European Union Referendum

In a speech directed at Britain and its future membership of the European Union, David Cameron said he would hold a referendum if he wins the next election. The speech given on Wednesday has had a mixed reception.

Cameron has again stated that Britain must hold a national referendum on whether the public want to stay in Europe, moving a lot closer to mentioning a date, saying using the mandate of the 2015 election he will go ahead with a referendum, this will appease some Conservative MPs and Euro-sceptics. Cameron believes that in the next couple of years that the EU “must agree on treaty change” to in fact to make the “changes needed for the long term future of the European Union”. Labour and the Liberal Democrats believe that gambling the UK membership of the European Union was against national and economic interest.

The House of Commons is likely to debate this in the coming days. Labour is saying that they could accept a referendum, but “not at the moment”.

Germany and France, two of the strongest economies in the European Union, also criticized the UK as taking an “a la carte” approach. Germany in particular asking for compromise from Britain, its Chancellor Angela Merkel asking for the UK to find “common ground” as she believes it is in their best interest for their economies to pick up. The United States also said they believe Britain is “stronger” because of the European Union membership.