British Exit

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The Brexit was originally a promise made by former Prime Minister David Cameron during his campaign to run for a second term as Prime Minister. Brexit’ is an abbreviation of ‘British Exit’, meaning leaving the United Kingdom from the European Union. This promise was reflected in the referendum of 23 June 2016, which left the people to decide whether the country would remain in the European Union. Following a 51.9% majority in favour of leaving the union, the country is involved in the withdrawal procedure. Following the unexpected defeat of the pro-European camp, Prime Minister David Cameron announced his resignation from the British government but pledged to ensure the transition until the autumn. It was in July 2016 that Theresa May, who had campaigned to stay in Europe, was appointed leader of the Conservative Party and became the second female prime minister after Margaret Thatcher. It will therefore be responsible for negotiations between the European Union and the United Kingdom: As stipulated in Article 50 of TEU, any Member State may decide, in accordance with its constitutional rules, to withdraw from the Union. However, this State must notify its intention to withdraw and submit a negotiation plan within two years of notification. According to article 50, all treaties cease to be applicable to the State concerned as from the date of entry into force of the withdrawal agreement or, failing that, two years after notification. However, one month before this deadline (29 March 2019) the United Kingdom and the European Union are in a deadlock. Indeed, several negotiation plans were necessary to reach a proposal for an agreement between the EU and the United Kingdom. However, this final agreement was rejected by the English parliament, leaving the government to find a new agreement to avoid a “no deal” on 29 March. Several questions then arose: Is it possible to revoke or postpone Brexit in order to find common ground and more generally what would be the consequences of Brexit for the United Kingdom and their fundamental rights?

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To answer the first question, according to Piet Eeckhout, there are five solutions: First, the United Kingdom may change its mind about its decision to withdraw from the European Union. Indeed this decision was taken following a referendum but can also be modified by the same procedure. The notification constitutes a withdrawal decision in accordance with the “constitutional requirements” of the withdrawing State. If that State rescinds that decision, in good faith and in a constitutionally orthodox manner, the very basis of the withdrawal disappears. In the United Kingdom, Parliament is sovereign. He authorized the government to notify its intention to withdraw and could decide, at any time, that Brexit is out of service. The EU respects the constitutional identity of its member states and should therefore respect any decision to change the plan. Otherwise, this would mean that any withdrawal decision initiated would inevitably lead to forced eviction. Secondly, as mentioned above, the British Parliament is sovereign and has the power to refuse a negotiated agreement. According to the government, this scenario would lead to a “no deal” but it can be contested. As shown by the Miller decision of the Supreme Court, only parliament can change the law of its country and is therefore able to request the continuation of negotiations even beyond the two years referred to in Article 50. The EU would have no choice but to respect this principle because, once again, this would be part of the United Kingdom’s constitutional requirements. Thirdly, in the event that the European Parliament rejects the various plans proposed by the UK, this should not lead to a no deal simply because time has run out. Otherwise, it would mean that the European Parliament is forced to accept an agreement that does not comply with its constitutional requirements. Therefore, the European Parliament may also request an extension of the negotiation period in order to avoid such a situation. Fourthly, the withdrawal agreement could be referred to the European Court of Justice. Under Article 218(11) TFEU, the latter may be required to give a final decision on this case. Of course, such a decision requires a full examination and analysis of the compatibility of the negotiated agreement with the rules, rights and different EU treaties. A procedure of this scope would require a lot of time and therefore it should put an end to the two-year period. Finally, fifthly, Article 50(3) provides that the treaties cease to be applicable as from the date of entry into force of the withdrawal agreement (“failing this”, two years after notification). There is no stipulation that this default duration is not inflexible. It therefore seems logical and possible that the agreement should set a new date of entry into force, leaving a transition period for the implementation of the new standards and thus ensuring greater stability.

The Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union sets out all the personal, civic, political, economic and social rights enjoyed by the citizens of the European Union. As Brexit approaches, the United Kingdom is close to its withdrawal from the EU and as a result, some of its rights and benefits will be taken away from British citizens. These changes focus mainly on the rights of British citizens in EU Member States.

Today, one million three hundred thousand British people live abroad while about three million two hundred thousand European citizens live in the United Kingdom. What would be the consequences of Brexit for all populations living abroad? The British government’s Brexit withdrawal agreement offers temporary guarantees to British people living elsewhere in the EU and EU citizens in the United Kingdom. The current agreement allows British and European citizens to keep their current freedom of movement and other rights of European citizenship until 31 December 2020, when the Brexit transition period will end. However, this plan must be approved by the British and European Parliament in order to be applicable. In the event of a “”no deal””, things would change drastically: The United Kingdom would immediately be considered by EU Member States as a third country on the same basis as other non-member States. The agreement mentioned above would not be put in place and would not guarantee that these rights would be retained. There is great uncertainty about what will happen to the British living in France, Spain, Germany and elsewhere. One of the possible scenarios is that they will need a residence permit to reside in the Member State or vice versa.

However, the European Commission has proposed a visa-free regime for British visitors to the EU, provided that the United Kingdom does the same. At the same time, the United Kingdom stated that “the principle of the free movement of persons between the Union and the United Kingdom will no longer apply” after the transition. However, this declaration, which sets out the United Kingdom’s ambitions for its future relationship with the EU, has yet to be negotiated. Mobility in Europe is important in many areas of the world of work, particularly in technological fields. In pan-European projects, specialists need to be able to move quickly. Since the referendum, there has been a form of discrimination against British workers in the world of work. Daniel Tetlow, from the British campaign group in Germany said: “I have the right to continue working only in Germany – I am indeed landlocked”. It is not clear which British professional qualifications will be recognised in the EU after Brexit, and vice versa. These details have not yet been negotiated. As far as British students in the EU are concerned, in the event of a withdrawal agreement, they will be able to continue their studies until 2021, the end of the transition phase. From that date, the United Kingdom will leave the Erasmus programme (unless an agreement is reached) and as a result, tuition fees will become significantly higher for British students, thus reducing exchanges between Europe and the United Kingdom.

In addition, it is not only the changes in the freedoms of motion that affect British citizens, but also all the benefits and social advantages that the EU offered to its Member States. According to Articles 34 and 35 of the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights, the EU recognises the rights of European citizens to access social security benefits and social services covering maternity, illness, accidents at work, dependency or old age, as well as in the event of loss of employment. The Union also offers health protection, allowing all civilians to access to health prevention and medical care under the conditions established by national laws and practices. To receive care in a Member State other than one’s own, it is necessary to have the European Health Insurance Card. There are no fewer than 27 million cards for British nationals. They cover pre-existing medical conditions as well as emergency care and people with chronic diseases, such as those requiring daily dialysis (Cancer or other), can travel knowing that they will receive treatment under the same conditions as the citizens of the country they are visiting. In the event that the United Kingdom or the EU without agreement, the card will no longer be valid for British citizens. The government advises all those who travel after 29 March 2019 to EU countries as well as Switzerland, Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein to take out travel insurance to cover medical care “”as if you were visiting a non-member country””. Theresa May’s government is in negotiations and is seeking agreements with countries on health care costs for British nationals. In addition, the system for processing pension transfers abroad could also be modified. Since 2017, transfers from the United Kingdom to non-EU countries have been subject to a 25% “”foreign tax burden””. There is no guarantee that tax-free transfers will continue for British pensioners living in the EU. In the case of an agreement, British citizens will not be subject to any change in their rights until the end of the transitional period and will therefore still enjoy their right to European social security.

In addition, the case of Ireland represents an obstacle to negotiations with the EU. Indeed, the issue of the borders between the United Kingdom and Ireland is a complex one. Brexit could jeopardize the maintenance of an agreement such as the Good Friday agreement or otherwise known as the Northern Ireland Peace agreement. This agreement, signed in April 1998, marked the end of a 30-year-old conflict between republicans and nationalists (mainly Catholics) on the one hand and loyalists and unionists (mainly Protestants) on the other. The actions of pro-independence paramilitary groups such as the IRA are considered terrorist but also a revolution and insurrection in the face of British occupation. The Anglo-Irish Peace Treaty is based on an ambiguity that “the natural right of all inhabitants of Northern Ireland to identify and be accepted as Irish or British, or both, as they may choose”. Since the Good Friday agreement, the border has been flexible, allowing the free movement of resources and populations between the two countries. However, the withdrawal of the United Kingdom undermined this foundation: the border will become “hard”, subject to the same customs rules as with non-EU countries. London, Dublin and the European Commission agree that this would be a disaster for peace in Northern Ireland. As Brexit approaches, tensions are increasing in Ireland. The explosion of a car bomb in Londonberry could be a sign of a return of IRA (a dissident branch) terrorism. In view of the possible spills in the event of a “no deal”, the United Kingdom and Scotland are preparing by training no fewer than a thousand police officers in order to send them to Ireland to maintain public order. In response to the problem, London proposed to create a so-called “invisible” North-South border combined with a surveillance system, based on a customs agreement with Northern Ireland that would result in a zero tariff trade agreement between the United Kingdom and the EU. However, this proposal was characterised by the impossibility of Dublin and the European Parliament. Also in the no deal scenario, Ireland will engage nearly 400 customs officers by the end of March and is moving quickly to put in place no-action measures to maintain trade with the United Kingdom.

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British Exit. (2020, Apr 24). Retrieved December 1, 2022 , from
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