Britain’s EU withdrawal agreement risks becoming “unenforceable” unless an adequate UK-EU dispute resolution is established, a parliamentary committee has warned.
In a report released on Thursday, the House of Lords EU Justice Sub-Committee has called on both the Government and the EU to bring forward “pragmatic proposals” to resolve the current deadlock on what will replace the European Court of Justice throughout the Brexit process.
Theresa May has made clear that withdrawal from the ECJ jurisdiction is one of her “red lines” for Brexit.
The Committee said a new, effective system must be proposed quickly to address the enforcement of the Withdrawal Agreement, arrangements during the transition period and criminal justice cooperation between Britain and the EU going forward.
The rights of individuals and businesses would also be left unprotected if any “insoluble” disagreements between Britain and the EU were to arise, they warned.
Chair of the EU Justice Sub-Committee, Baroness Kennedy of The Shaws, said: “We are really worried now about the lack of time. This is difficult stuff, and unless both sides show real flexibility in the coming months, not only could the rights of businesses and individuals be threatened, but the whole Brexit withdrawal agreement could end up being potentially unenforceable.
It is increasingly clear that operating without cross-border courts is impossible if we want to trade, have secure borders, co-operate on crime and enforce agreements with the EU as a future partner.Baroness Kennedy
“What’s absolutely vital is that after Brexit we continue to give ordinary citizens access to justice.
“For example, if you’re a parent living in the UK, and you want to enforce the payment of maintenance by an ex-partner living in the EU, you want access to quick, effective justice.”
The Committee also suggested that Brexit could result in several “quasi-courts” between Britain and the EU, rather than just one.
“It is increasingly clear that operating without cross-border courts is impossible if we want to trade, have secure borders, co-operate on crime and enforce agreements with the EU as a future partner,” Baroness Kennedy said.
The Committee added that the Government has already conceded on the need for “give and take” upon Britain’s departure from the ECJ, also known as the the CJEU.
“If the UK wants to stay in key EU agencies, such as on medicines or aviation, it will have to ‘respect the remit’ of the CJEU,” she added.
A Department for Exiting the European Union spokesman said: “We have made substantial progress on our withdrawal agreement including finalising the chapter on citizens’ rights. This includes announcing a Withdrawal Agreement and Implementation Bill which gives clarity on how citizens will enjoy their rights.
“We are making progress on the issues left to resolve but there should be no doubt that we are ending the jurisdiction of the ECJ in the UK.”