The government’s explicit recognition that the UK and the EU will require a mechanism to rule on disputes following Brexit leaves the door ajar for a continued relationship with the trading bloc’s energy arrangements, say experts.
The Department for Exiting the European Union published a paper on 23 August setting out its proposed new framework for resolving disputes following the UK’s exit from the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice (ECJ).
Withdrawal from the ECJ, which is the EU’s supreme court, has been cited as one of the key reason why the UK must pull out of Euratom when it leaves the EU.
The government’s position paper outlines a series of options for how disputes could be resolved between the EU and the UK, including joint committees and arbitration panels.
Anthony Froggatt, senior research fellow in energy and environmental issues at the security think tank Chatham House, said that the proposals outlined in the paper could permit the UK’s continuing involvement in the EU’s emissions trading scheme.
He said: “This recognises that there needs to be an arbitration mechanism for trade and future relationships which is fundamental for all networked industries. It-opens the door for the ETS.”
Tim Yeo, chairman of New Nuclear Watch Europe, said the paper’s proposals might also allow the UK to retain a relationship with Euratom.
He said: “This could mean that the door is open for us to have associate membership with Euratom. This could be a lifeline in terms of allowing us to have a relationship with Euratom in the future that reduces the need for large numbers of very complex nuclear co-operation arrangements.”
Peter Haslam, head of policy at the Nuclear Industry Association, said: “The Euratom Treaty is separate from the European Union Treaties, but as it is governed by the same institutions – the European Commission, Council and Courts of Justice, the government believes it is legally joined; a position which has been disputed by experts in European and nuclear law.
“The UK nuclear industry wants the government to negotiate with the commission to retain the benefits of membership of Euratom, possibly by association with Euratom arrangements, because of its importance to the operation of the UK’s civil nuclear industry both in the UK and the remaining EU member states. If this isn’t possible, then it is vital that transitionary arrangements are put in place to avoid a cliff edge in March 2019, which would cause serious disruption to the sector.”