Timing for Triggering Article 50 and Great Repeal Bill
On 2 October 2016 the Prime Minister Theresa May announced that Article 50 of the Treaty on European Union will be triggered before the end… Read more
On 2 October 2016 the Prime Minister Theresa May announced that Article 50 of the Treaty on European Union will be triggered before the end of March 2017. The Prime Minister also announced that the next Queen’s Speech will include a Great Repeal Bill (GRB) which will repeal the European Communities Act 1972 (ECA).
The ECA legislated for the UK’s accession to what is today the EU. The impact of the ECA being repealed will be to terminate the current primacy of EU law over domestic law. Technically, the UK will have already implemented EU directives through national laws, but EU regulations have direct effect in EU member states without any additional implementation requirements. Such EU regulations would need to be expressly preserved by UK statute if they are to be retained once the ECA is repealed.
The announcement regarding the GRB suggests that EU laws will remain enshrined in UK law after repeal of the ECA until the laws are reviewed and decisions are made as to which laws are to be maintained as part of domestic law, which are to be amended and which are to be repealed entirely. This analysis will clearly be a long and complicated process for parliament and the government, as arguably the majority of EU legislation is not appropriate for a simple “lift and shift” without some form of amendment. For example, the role of EU governing bodies which are responsible for overseeing certain EU legislation (and even some UK legislation) would need to be assessed to find a practical alternative. EU reciprocal laws (such as the Recast Brussels Regulation which regulates jurisdiction and the recognition and enforcement of judgments between EU member states) will simply not apply as intended without amendment due to the fact that they only apply to EU member states. And in all respects, EU legislation will need to be reviewed in light of a changing UK government policy and focus, which, whilst separate from a process point of view, will be very much dependent on the Article 50 exit package that the UK is able to negotiate.
Whilst the Prime Minister’s announcement does not yet shed much light on what the impact will be on specific EU legislation that currently forms part of UK law, the one exception was in respect of workers’ rights. The Prime Minister stated that “Existing workers’ legal rights will continue to be guaranteed in law – and they will be guaranteed as long as I am prime minister.”
On the basis of the Prime Minister’s speech, the Brexit timeline appears to be that March 2017 will mark the beginning of the two-year negotiations, in April or May 2017 at the Queen’s Speech the GBR will be introduced, and in early 2019 the UK will leave the EU and the GBR will take effect.