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Advice Guides

June 27 2016

The European Union and Brexit

 

The formation of the European Union was first intimated in 1951, following the Second World War with the intention that European countries form industrial and economic cooperation so as to prevent further armed conflict.[1] The European Economic Community (EEC) was created by the Treaty of Rome in 1957 and established a common market between signatories. The EEC guaranteed four fundamental freedoms: Free movement and trading of goods, services, capital and worker; such freedoms initiated free movement. The United Kingdom finally joined the EEC in 1973 following years of application by the Conservative government.  Soon after, in 1975 the Labour party forced a referendum in which the vote was to stay within the EEC.

In 1992, the European Economic Community was renamed the European Community (EC) and became the backbone of the newly formed European Union which was created by the Treaty of the European Union (Treaty of Maastricht). The Treaty of the European Union developed the principle of worker’s freedom of movement into a concept of European Citizenship, which is automatically inherited by all nationals of member states of the EU. The concept of European Citizenship removed the requirement of work and allowed nationals of member states of the EU to move freely and to reside in other member states of the EU. In 2007, the Treaty of Lisbon confirmed the concept of European Citizenship and the freedom of movement.

The European Union, as we know it today has been joined by 28 member states and is made up of the European Parliament, European Council, Council of the European Union, European Commission, Court of Justice of the European Union, the European Central Bank and the European Court of Auditors. [2]

The Treaty of Lisbon also provided a provision known as Article 50, to allow member states of the EU to leave in accordance with their constitutional requirements.[3] Article 50 does not include substantive conditions for a member state to exercise its right to withdraw, but provides procedural requirements only.[4] It requires member states intending to leave to firstly notify the EU of their intention to do so. Following such notification, a period of negotiation will occur to determine the terms of exit. The negotiation period may last for up to two years however should no agreement be made within this timeframe the EU may either extend the negotiation period or terminate the membership of that member state.

In order to establish whether Britain should exit the EU, (colloquially referred to as Brexit) the Government of the United Kingdom has held a referendum in which voters were asked if they wished to Remain In or Leave the EU, the voting result was a majority in favour of leaving the EU. Despite this vote, exit is not automatic. The UK Government should it so wish is required make formal notification to the European Council of its intention to leave and this will commence the negotiation period. Prime Minister David Cameron has resigned, explaining that the notification will not be made until October 2016 when a new Conservative party leader will have been chosen to lead the negotiations; however in view of the current UK political crisis and the anxiety within European member states it is unclear at present when this formal intimation will be made. As Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty has not been raised before, the process beyond the basic procedure is a grey area open to interpretation.

The legal consequence of leaving the EU is that from the date of exit, EU law will cease to apply. Any national law created to implement EU law will continue to apply until such national law is reformed. On this basis and until the UK leaves the EU, the existing EU laws remain in force.  In the meantime, any UK law reform will be required to pass through parliament before it enters into force.

It should be noted that the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) is not part of European Union Law and will continue to be unaffected by Brexit. The ECHR is incorporated into UK law by the Human Rights Act 1998 and despite discussions of reform by the UK Government, the Act remains the UK’s primary human rights legislation. The UK is also bound by International Human Rights Law and International Refugee Law, namely the 1951 Refugee Convention.

Leaving the European Union will undoubtedly have an effect on free movement law in the UK, Europe and perhaps further afield; however at this stage, Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty has not yet been enacted. The legal position remains unchanged and EU law will continue to apply in the UK until Brexit has been finalised which is assumed to be after the 2 year negotiation period following activation of Article 50, whenever that occurs.



[1]Treaty Establishing European Coal and Steel Community and Annexes I-III, Paris 18 April 1951

[2] Official website of the European Union, EU Institutions and other bodies (http://europa.eu/about-eu/institutions-bodies/index_en.htm) accessed 27 June 2016.

[3]Treaty of Libson Amending the Treaty on European Union and The Treaty establishing The European Community (2007/C 306/01) Title 6 Final Provisions 137 Article 50

[4]European Parliament Briefing Article 50 TEU: Withdrawal of a Member State from the EU February 2016 (http://www.europarl.europa.eu/RegData/etudes/BRIE/2016/577971/EPRS_BRI(2016)577971_EN.pfd)

 

 

February 03 2016

The Government's right to rent scheme has gone live across England. 

This now means that Landlords must carry out checks to all new adult tenants to ensure they have the right to rent property. 

Landlords who fail to carry out these checks, risk a maximum fine of £3000 per tenant

There is currently no fixed timetable for it being extended to Scotland. 

If you think you are affected by these new changes, please contact us to advise you of your rights. 

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