07:27, July 13 131 0 theguardian.com

2017-07-13 07:27:03
Brexit department lays out nuclear and justice stance for negotiations

The Department for Exiting the European Union (DExEU) has published position papers on the UK’s stance in the Brexit negotiations on the European atomic energy community (Euratom) and the role of the European court of justice (ECJ).

Euratom

The government has resisted calls from Conservative MPs for a rethink on leaving Euratom, arguing that Brussels insists the UK cannot withdraw from the EU and stay in the nuclear energy treaty.

The DExEU said Britain would quit the treaty but seek to work with Euratom’s member countries to ensure a “smooth transition” to a new regime of nuclear cooperation and safeguards.

The position paper shows the government is not changing course from its decision in January to leave the treaty, despite warnings by radiologists this week that doing so would threaten the supply of radioactive isotopes used in scans and treatment.

Politicians and the nuclear industry have urged ministers to consider an associate membership, an option that does not appear in the paper. There is no mention of radioactive isotopes.

The paper argues that Brexit meant the UK had no choice but to leave the treaty, because the European commission had insisted it could not stay.

Steve Baker, a junior minister in the Brexit department, pointed to comments by Guy Verhofstadt, the European parliament’s Brexit coordinator.

Guy Verhofstadt (@GuyVerhofstadt)

What is not possible is to go out of the Union but to stay a full member of Euratom.https://t.co/HzSXrXgw7P

July 13, 2017

However, the government also made it clear that one of the key reasons for leaving Euratom was that it gave the ECJ jurisdiction over the UK.

The Brexit secretary, David Davis, said: “While we’re leaving the EU, we are not leaving Europe, and we want to continue cooperating with our friends and neighbours on issues of mutual importance including nuclear safeguards. By ending the jurisdiction of the court of justice of the European Union [CJEU], UK courts will be supreme once more.”

Rupert Cowen, a nuclear expert at Prospect Law, said the paper showed the government wanted “to follow through with their intention to withdraw from Euratom, despite the fact that there is probably no legal reason requiring them to do so”.

The nuclear industry said ministers had failed to give the sector enough clarity to date on the government’s plans regarding Euratom.

“While containing very little detail, the UK government’s position paper demonstrates the complexity of replicating Euratom arrangements in UK regulation and cooperation agreements with third countries which the industry has warned of,” said Tom Greatrex, the chief executive of the Nuclear Industry Association.

Mike Clancy, the general secretary of the Prospect union, said: “While it is welcome that the government has set out its principles for Euratom, there is little reassurance in the paper about the scale of the challenge facing the UK.”

European court of justice

The ECJ should not be allowed to rule on UK cases that will not be before the court on the day Britain leaves the EU, the Brexit department said.

The position puts the UK at odds with Brussels’ negotiating position that the ECJ should continue to have jurisdiction over cases that originate in UK courts before Britain’s departure date. Cases before the ECJ can take many years to be resolved.

The UK’s position paper on the ECJ says the court should not be able to hear UK cases from the day after Britain leaves the EU, but could still rule on UK law if the cases begin before the departure date.

May has made leaving the court’s jurisdiction one of her “red lines” in the negotiations and the department’s second Brexit position paper lays out in broad terms how cases should proceed during the two-year negotiation period.

However, the paper also acknowledges that there “will likely be a small number of cases which are pending at the CJEU on the date we leave”. Those cases may originate in British courts, referring questions of EU law. The paper says the UK aims to give “as much certainty as possible to those who find their cases before the court at the point of withdrawal”.

However, the paper says the ECJ will not be allowed to rule on UK cases that were not before the court on the day Britain leaves the EU. “This would apply even where the facts of the case occurred before withdrawal,” the paper says.

Davis said: “By ending the jurisdiction of the court of justice of the European Union, UK courts will be supreme once more. Our sensible approach to pending cases means there would be a smooth and orderly transition to when the court no longer has jurisdiction in the UK.”