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Dispute resolution clash could derail Brexit deal, warns UK think tank

[BRUSSELS] Britain's brinkmanship on proposing a dispute-resolution system to fill the void left by the European Union Court of Justice (ECJ) risks becoming a Brexit deal-breaker, a London think tank warned.

"Disagreements over dispute resolution have the potential to derail negotiations" and the UK and the European Commission "are still a long way apart", the Institute for Government said in a report published on Friday.

"If negotiators discover at the eleventh hour they have irreconcilable differences, with each other, with the ECJ or with the parliamentarians responsible for ratification, prospects for a timely deal will evaporate," according to the report.

"The government can mitigate that risk by starting an informed debate now."

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The future role of the EU's top court in a post-Brexit UK has been one of the main stumbling blocks for the Brexit talks after UK Prime Minister Theresa May promised to free her nation from the Luxembourg-based court's power. While the British position has since softened, it's not come anywhere near to satisfying the EU's demands.

The UK only really has two ways to break the stalemate over the future role of the bloc's top court post-Brexit: sign up to a European Free Trade Association-type court model, or come up with an "inventive, untested" new structure, the London-based think tank said in Friday's report.

Whatever model is put forward, the UK must strike a balance between caving in to the EU's demands and totally isolating the nation from the EU Court of Justice, which could wreck the chances of any deal, the research group said.

"The deeper the government wants the future partnership deal with the EU to be, the more it needs an effective dispute prevention and resolution mechanism," Jill Rutter, Brexit programme director at the think tank, said in the report.

"But this could be perceived as limiting the extent to which we have taken back control of laws."

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