Revealed: The full details of DexEU's ECJ position paper

 
Catherine Neilan
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The UK will seek an end to "direct" jurisdiction of the ECJ after Brexit - relying on a third party arbitration system to resolve disputes.

A position paper published minutes ago set out the Department for Exiting the EU (DexEU)'s aims for the next round of talks.

It says:

EU membership has meant an intrinsic link between the EU’s legal order and the legal systems in the UK. Withdrawal from the EU will mean a return to the situation where the UK and the EU have their own autonomous legal orders. The Withdrawal Agreement and the future partnership must respect the autonomy and integrity of both legal orders.

The paper opens with a commitment to leaving the direct jurisdiction of European Courts, noting there are "a number of existing precedents where the EU has reached agreements with third countries which provide for a close cooperative relationship without the CJEU having direct jurisdiction over those countries".

It makes much of the EFTA - the European Free Trade Area, an agreement between the EU and Norway, Iceland, Switzerland and Liechtenstein - as a potential option, saying:

Even where agreements refer to terms or concepts in EU law, those agreements can be enforced or interpreted outside the EU by means other than the CJEU. This can be through political bodies, or through judicial or quasi-judicial bodies. For example, under the European Economic Area (EEA) Agreement, the European Free Trade Area (EFTA) Court can interpret and enforce the agreement, which includes terms and concepts of EU law, in the EFTA States that are within the EEA1 . The EFTA Court does not bind the EU or its institutions, and so the model is compatible with EU law.

The government has been on the defensive this morning, with Theresa May insisting the jurisdiction of the ECJ will end with Brexit, while justice minister Dominic Raab was called on to explain why the position paper only called for an end to "direct" jurisdiction.

The Prime Minister this morning told Sky News: "When we leave the European Union, we will be leaving the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice.

"What we will be able to do is make our own laws, parliament will make our laws, it is British judges who will interpret those laws, and it will be the British Supreme Court who will be the ultimate arbiter of those laws. We will take back control of our laws."

Tory MP Bernard Jenkin has also waded into what he called "a storm in a tea cup".

"If you are ending direct jurisdiction of the ECJ, you are ending jurisdiction," he told Sky News.

This breaking news story is being updated as more information emerges - please refresh the page for the most recent version.

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