15, December, 2016
At a press briefing for the 15 December European Council here in Brussels, a “high European official” revealed how little the EU-27 have measured the widespread consequences of Brexit on their timetable.
The rush, rush attitude of Commission President Juncker, Eur Council President Tusk, EP president Schulz and as articulated also by Guy Verhofstadt is up for a surprise. The treaty of Lisbon calls for a 2 year negotiation. Guy Verhofstadt MEP and the Commission’s Brexit pointman Michel Barnier say this must realistically be reduced to 15 months to allow for preparation and ratification in all 28 States. All the lose ends have to be wrapped up well before the 2019 elections, they all say.
They don’t want UK to be electing MEPs while it is about to leave the EU under Article 50.
What they haven’t foreseen is clear from the briefing. That is regardless of what happens with the Lisbon E U negotiations, the UK will still be obliged to elect MEPs — not under the Lisbon Treaty but under the nuclear non-proliferation treaty, Euratom. (The EU is not the same as the European Community in law!)
The Founding Fathers of Europe were democratic and the Assembly was created by the founding Treaty in 1951. The first was the Coal and Steel Community with an Assembly which required elections by universal suffrage.
There were three Communities. Each treaty had full democracy based on one person one vote. But initially the parliamentarians were delegated by the national parliaments until the politicians provided the single statute for all Europe.
We are still waiting for them to do so.
The institutions of three Communities merged to have a single Parliament which is the present European Parliament. In the Merger Treaty of 1965 they have a single Council and the same Consultative Committees such as the Economic and Social Committee. When MEPs are elected they are elected to be parliamentarians for Euratom and for the EU.
Nuclear matters were responsible to this Assembly and other bodies such as the Consultative Committees which also should be elected. The public is still waiting for elections there too.
The European Union arose from modifying just one of these three Communities, the EEC “Common Market”. This was done by the treaties of Maastricht, Amsterdam, Nice and the failed and rejected Constitutional Treaty whose articles were illegally incorporated as the Lisbon treaty.
Euratom remains a separate body and requires in its articles that States elect parliamentarians.
What does this mean for Britons living on the Continent? What does it mean for Britons in the UK? That has to be worked out.
Have the EU27 or the European Council considered the implications of this treaty? The answer is No. And officials said they won’t even be discussing it on Thursday, 14 December. They will leave it until after the negotiation date is set.
What will they find?
That (1) this Community treaty has a “perpetuity” clause like the EEC used to have before it was changed to the Article 50 of Lisbon.
(2) They will also find that, even if they come up with a legal device to overturn the perpetuity clause (which at the very least will require unanimity first, then treaty change and parliamentary ratification by 28 States) they will be faced with a world of highly complex additional negotiation to deal with. That is the common market of nuclear materials and safeguards that will prevent countries like Iran getting hold of it. It adds a new braking action for the fast Brexiteers.
The EU-27 States estimate that it will take a decade or more to negotiate merely the trade aspects. So says UK’s Brussels diplomat, Sir Ivan Rogers. That assumes there will be no legal delays by angry citizens and consumers.
Conclusion: Fast Brexit is looking more like Mission Impossible.David Heilbron Price