April 8th 2017

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Articles from this issue:

COVER STORY Euthanasia: shutting up by shouting down

EUTHANASIA British actress tells it like it is

CANBERRA OBSERVED Move on 18C a return to a classic Liberal position

EDITORIAL Kowtowing to China is a serious mistake

ENERGY Hazelwood is vital to Australia's power supply

FOREIGN AFFAIRS UK sets out on the bumpy road to Brexit

QUEENSLAND Women have a victory over the abortion industry

BEHIND THE NEWS Ataturk and modern Turkey out of the shadow

WEST AUSTRALIAN ELECTION Unions and Emily's Listers reap WA Labor's harvest

LITERATURE The Napoleon of Notting Hill: Chesterton for today

HUMOUR Excerpts from the revised and updated edition of Forget's Dictionary of Inaccurate Facts, Furphys and Falsehoods

MUSIC Program notes: Jazz's two-tiered appeal

CINEMA The Boss Baby: Tots that mean business

BOOK REVIEW End to history nowhere in sight

BOOK REVIEW That sinking feeling



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UK sets out on the bumpy road to Brexit

by Peter Westmore

News Weekly, April 8, 2017

On March 29, British Prime Minister Theresa May gave the EU notice of Britain’s withdrawal from the European Union, the first formal step of the legal process for leaving the EU. Two weeks earlier, Britain’s Parliament had finally approved the bill authorising the Government to trigger Article 50 of the Treaty of Lisbon.

The House of Commons had considered the legislation early in February, but the House of Lords had sought amendments protecting the rights of EU citizens living in Britain, and requiring a vote on the final negotiated terms of Brexit. However, the British Prime Minister refused to accept these amendments, and the House of Commons supported her decision to override the House of Lords.

There has been a great deal of speculation about how these negotiations will proceed. European Union officials have said that they will demand up to €50 billion ($A70 billion) as a withdrawal fee, a figure which the British minister responsible for negotiations has described as “ridiculous”.

The exit strategy

Prime Minister May has set out the British Government’s negotiating position as a 12-point plan:

1. Providing certainty and clarity.

“We will provide certainty wherever we can as we approach the negotiations.”

2. Taking control of our own laws.

“We will take control of our own statute book and bring an end to the jurisdiction of the Court of Justice of the European Union in the UK.”

3. Strengthening the United Kingdom.

“We will secure a deal that works for the entire UK, for Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland and all parts of England. We remain fully committed to the Belfast Agreement and its successors.”

4. Protecting historic ties with Ireland and maintaining the Common Travel Area.

“We will work to deliver a practical solution that allows for the maintenance of the Common Travel Area, whilst protecting the integrity of our immigration system and which protects our strong ties with Ireland.”

5. Controlling immigration.

“We will have control over the number of EU nationals coming to the UK.”

6. Securing rights for EU nationals in the UK, and UK nationals in the EU.

“We want to secure the status of EU citizens who are already living in the UK, and that of UK nationals in other Member States, as early as we can.”

7. Protecting workers’ rights.

“We will protect and enhance existing workers’ rights.”

8. Ensuring free trade with European markets.

“We will forge a new strategic partnership with the EU, including a wide-reaching, bold and ambitious free trade agreement, and will seek a mutually beneficial new customs agreement with the EU.”

9. Securing new trade agreements with other countries.

“We will forge ambitious free trade relationships across the world.”

10. Ensuring the UK remains the best place for science and innovation.

“We will remain at the vanguard of science and innovation and will seek continued close collaboration with our European partners.”

11. Co-operating in the fight against crime and terrorism.

“We will continue to work with the EU to preserve European security, to fight terrorism, and to uphold justice across Europe.”

12. Delivering a smooth, orderly exit from the EU.

“We will seek a phased process of implementation, in which both the UK and the EU institutions and the remaining EU Member States prepare for the new arrangements that will exist between us.”

A great deal will depend on how the EU negotiators approach this process.

The House of Lords has published an analysis of the impact of Britain’s withdrawal, including a legal opinion by the Legal Adviser to the Lords’ Select Committee on the UK’s legal obligations arising from its withdrawal from the EU.

After examining in detail the Treaty of Lisbon (the Treaty on European Union, TEU), specifically Article 50, which establishes the right of EU members to withdraw, the legal opinion is strikingly clear.

It says: “The expression the ‘Treaties shall cease to apply to the State in question’ in Article 50(3) TEU is unqualified by any condition about ongoing liabilities under EU law, no doubt because this is exactly what the withdrawal agreement is intended to cover.

“The meaning of the words are clear: the foundation of the whole edifice of EU law – the acquis communautaire – is abruptly removed for the state in question. “Given that the EU treaties are at the pinnacle of the hierarchy of EU norms, once they cease to have effect, the legal base for every aspect of the UK’s membership of the EU comes to an end.

“This will include all of its legal obligations under the Own Resources Decision, the Multiannual Financial Framework, and the Annual Budget. It will also include the supremacy of EU law over UK law, and the jurisdiction of the CJEU [Court of Justice of the European Union] over the UK.”

The advice continued: “It follows that, under EU law, Article 50 [of the] TEU allows the UK to leave the EU without being liable for outstanding financial obligations under the EU budget, unless a withdrawal agreement is concluded which resolves this issue.”

The advice did not deal with the political consequences of the UK withdrawing from the EU, but found that the EU would not be able to enforce any adverse ruling, either in the UK or internationally.

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Last Modified:
April 4, 2018, 6:45 pm