On Friday 17th February, Tony Blair, launched his campaign for Bremain, declaring it his “mission” to persuade Britons to “rise up” and change their minds on Brexit and find “a way out from the present rush over the cliff’s edge”. Speaking in the City of London, the former prime minister claimed that people voted in the referendum “without knowledge of the true terms of Brexit”. Debate continues to rage over the true cost of Brexit, as a result of Camerons commitment to fund the whole current EU spending cycle from 2014 to 2020. The time lag between commitment and expenditure – the “Reste à Liquider” (RAL) – may see Britain making payments to Brussels until at least 2023. The true costs of the referendum are now coming to light, as the Electoral Commission declares it the most expensive referendum in British political history.
This week also saw the start of the journey of the Brexit Bill through the House of Lords under the steely, somewhat sneering gaze of the Prime Minister and a warning that Britain will be plunged into its biggest turmoil in over a century if peers attempt to thwart Brexit’. The attempt to intimidate was lost on Liberal Democrat Baroness Kramer who called for voters to have “the final word” on the Brexit deal in a referendum.
Stephen Sedley commented on the curious language used in the Brexit Bill, calling the ‘petulant and ungrammatical wording, alongside the use of an acronym rather than the name of the European Union’ a ‘curiosity’ that raised the question of whether the Bill ‘was copied from the back of a ministerial envelope.’ He also agrees with those who think that the CJEU may yet have to determine whether Article 50 TFEU once triggered can be revoked:
‘…if, after two years of negotiation, no acceptable deal has been reached with the other member states, either the prime minister’s notice under Article 50 will expire and our membership of the EU will lapse with no deal in place, or the notice will have to be extended or withdrawn. Who has authority to decide whether this can be done? The Court of Justice of the European Union, that’s who.’
Businesses begin to make Brexit plans – Barclays Bank announced an expansion of operations in Ireland and Germany, although apparently the bulk of operations will stay in London after Brexit even if the UK loses access to the single market. Farmers also delivered a warning over the consequence of losing EU seasonal workers: according to figures released this week, more than 100,000 EU citizens left Britain in the three months after the EU referendum. New worker registrations from Poland, Hungary and Slovakia are down from 16% – 20% prompting fears of a recruitment crisis.
Meanwhile, fraud investigations spread from the father to the daughter: this week French police raided the FN Headquarters of Marine Le Pen as part of an official investigation into “fake” jobs involving the misuse of European Union funds to pay for a bodyguard and an assistant in Paris. OLAF has demanded that she repay €340,000 and in the face of her refusal, is currently deducting this from her MEP’s salary.
Finally, as Labour clung onto Stoke and the Conservatives took Copeland, questions have been raised concerning the future of UKIP – having lost ‘Brexit capital’ is UKIP now a spent force? In Stoke, UKIP finished more than 12 points behind Labour. Can the end of the insurgency party in the UK fortell the end of the insurgent in the White House?
From the CJEU:
C‑466/15 Jean-Michel Adrien and Others
Free Movement of Workers: Article 45 TFEU precludes national legislation which has the effect that a national official seconded to an EU institution who chooses to remain affiliated to the national pension scheme for the duration of his secondment loses all or part of the advantages based on the national scheme if he completes 10 years’ service in the EU entitling him to a pension under the European Union pension scheme.
C‑508/15 and C‑509/15 Ucar and KIlic v Land Berlin
EEC-Turkey Association Agreement : Article 7 (1) (1) of Decision No 1/80 confers a right of residence in the host Member State on a family member of a Turkish worker, where the family member has been authorised to enter that Member State for the purposes of family reunification, and has always lived with that Turkish worker in the host member state, even if the period of at least three years registration for work does not immediately follow the arrival of the family member concerned in the host Member State.
C‑519/15 P (Appeal) Trafilerie Meridionali SpA
Article 47 CFR: a claim for compensation in respect of damage caused by the General Court’s breach of Art 47 CFR may not be made in an appeal to the CJ but must be brought before the GC under Art 256 (1) TFEU. Such a claim before the General Court must be determined by a new Chamber composition. However, if it is clear that the infringement by the General Court is sufficiently serious the Court of Justice ‘may note that fact’.
C‑539/15 Daniel Bowman v Pensionsversicherungsanstalt
Age Discrimination: Article 2(1) and (2) of Council Directive 2000/78/EC does not preclude a national collective labour agreement by which an employee who benefits from account being taken of periods of school education for the purpose of his classification in the salary increments is subject to a longer period of advancement between the first and second salary step, as long as that extension applies to every employee benefiting from the inclusion of those periods, including retroactively to those having already reached the next steps.
C‑548/15 J.J. de Lange v Staatssecretaris van Finaciën
Age Discrimination: Article 3(1)(b) of Directive 2000/78/EC applies to a taxation scheme which determines the tax treatment of vocational training costs by age. Article 6(1) of Directive 2000/78 allows a taxation scheme where those under 30 may – subject to conditions – fully deduct vocational training costs from their taxable income while this is restricted for those 30 or over, as long as the scheme is proportionate. It is for the national court to determine whether that is the case in the main proceedings.
C‑601/15 PPU J. N. v Staatssecretaris voor Veiligheid en Justitie
International protection: Article 8(3)(e) of Directive 2013/33/EU does not breach Articles 6 and 52(1) and (3) of the Charter of Fundamental Rights. Article 8(3)(e) of Directive 2013/33, entitled ‘Detention’, provides that ‘An applicant may be detained only […] when protection of national security or public order so requires.’