12:36, June 29 75 0 theguardian.com

2017-06-29 12:36:02
EU negotiator says ECJ should still be able to fine UK after Brexit

The European court of justice should have the power to fine the UK even once it leaves the EU, according to the bloc’s chief Brexit negotiator, Michel Barnier.

The court in Luxembourg should be able to “request a lump sum or a penalty payment” from the British government or the EU if either side breaks a future agreement on citizens’ rights or the UK’s divorce bill.

A position paper from the EU’s Brexit taskforce, led by Barnier, suggests that the two sides establish a joint committee to initially deal with any clashes once a withdrawal agreement is struck.

However, it adds: “The withdrawal agreement should provide for an effective mechanism to ensure compliance by the parties with judgments of the court of justice handed down in accordance with the withdrawal agreement.”

The EU says the House of Commons should legislate to ensure that the enforcement mechanisms agreed upon have legal force.

The document was published by the European commission as it consults with the 27 member states before the next negotiating session between Barnier and the Brexit secretary, David Davis, on 17 July.

A preliminary assessment by the commission of the UK’s position on citizens’ rights, leaked to the Guardian, suggests there is general dissatisfaction with the UK’s opening offer on the rights of citizens after 2019. There was, the document reports, a “general lack of clarity … many issues still to be clarified, no reciprocity, [a] lack of legal certainty, no lifelong protection against future changes of UK law [and] no directly enforceable vested rights and no European court of justice”.

In Tallinn Estonia’s president, Kersti Kaljulaid, marking her country’s inheritance of the six-month rolling presidency of the European council, said she was not clear that negotiations about a future trading relationship would begin by October, as both sides hope. The European council has said it needs to see “sufficient progress” on citizens rights, the divorce bill and the border on the island of Ireland, before discussions can be had on a future free trade deal.

Kaljulaid said: “Brexit is a negotiation process for which I now feel the European Union seems to be even slightly better prepared than the United Kingdom, which kind of shows us that when the European Union needs to react quickly it can do so with considerable speed and effectiveness.

“During our presidency I don’t exactly see how we can go so quickly to the discussions on the trade …

“Brexit will not define our presidency in any way. We want to talk about the European Union’s future. And I believe we can now see the ice is starting to break really about the negativity concerning the European Union.

“Partly, I believe this is because straight after the Brexit vote everyone in Europe realised that blaming Brussels is not cheap at all.

“You may blame your country out of the European Union, which isn’t anyone’s objective, not in the mainstream political scale at least. People started to think, ‘Hold on, what have we got from the European Union project … If you look at the hard statistics, almost every country is better off than they were at the beginning of the century.”