EU court: UK expatriates cannot challenge Brexit talks

Britain's opposition Labour Party Leader Jeremy Corbyn responding to a statement by Prime Minister Theresa May to the House of Commons in London on November 26, 2018, to update parliament on the newly-agreed Brexit deal. (AFP)
Updated 27 November 2018
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EU court: UK expatriates cannot challenge Brexit talks

BRUSSELS: EU judges have dismissed a case brought by a Second World War veteran and other Britons living on the continent against the Brexit negotiation, ruling on Monday that their rights as EU citizens had not yet been infringed.

Harry Shindler, a 97-year-old living in Italy, was among 13 expatriates who complained to the EU’s General Court that Brexit would deprive them of EU citizenship, and that the decision last year by the bloc’s council of member states to accept notification of Britain’s withdrawal next March breached their rights because they had been denied a vote in the 2016 referendum.

On Monday, the court dismissed the action as inadmissible because the council’s move to start talks with London did not in itself carry any definite consequences for their rights.

“The decision of the council authorizing the opening of negotiations on Brexit does not produce binding legal effects capable of affecting the interests of the applicants by bringing about a distinct change in their legal position,” it said.

Julien Fouchet, a French lawyer acting for the plaintiffs, said they would appeal to the Court of Justice, the EU’s top court. “Unacceptable,” he tweeted. “The fight goes on.”

 

Referendum

Shindler had taken a demand that all expatriates be given a vote in the referendum to London’s High Court. 

Judges there ruled two months before the vote that this would be too difficult for the authorities. Campaigners say millions of British citizens fall foul of a law depriving them of a vote after 15 years abroad.

Under Article 50 of the EU treaty, Prime Minister Theresa May notified the European Council on March 29, 2017, that Britain would leave the bloc, setting in motion a two-year countdown that will see Britain leave in four months’ time.

On Sunday, May and the other 27 EU leaders formally agreed a treaty setting terms for departure and outlining a close future trading relationship, but the British Parliament may yet reject that deal. Britain could then leave without clear legal terms.

On Tuesday, the European Court of Justice in Luxembourg will hear a case brought by Scottish politicians who oppose Brexit and want judges to rule on whether the Article 50 notification process can be simply revoked by the British government, whether or not other EU states agree.

They hope that can strengthen a campaign to have Brexit halted altogether, although May insists it will go ahead.


Seoul: North Korea withdrew staff from liaison office

Updated 23 min 32 sec ago
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Seoul: North Korea withdrew staff from liaison office

  • The second US-North Korea summit in Vietnam collapsed due to disputes over US-led sanctions on the North
  • The South Korean statement calls the North’s decision “regrettable”

SEOUL: North Korea abruptly withdrew its staff from an inter-Korean liaison office in the North on Friday, Seoul officials said.
The development will likely put a damper on ties between the Koreas and complicate global diplomacy on the North’s nuclear weapons program. Last month, the second US-North Korea summit in Vietnam collapsed due to disputes over US-led sanctions on the North.
Seoul’s Unification Ministry said that North Korea informed South Korea of its decision during a meeting at the liaison office at the North Korean border town of Kaesong on Friday.
The North said it “is pulling out with instructions from the superior authority,” according to a Unification Ministry statement. It didn’t say whether North Korea’s withdrawal of staff would be temporary or permanent.
According to the South Korean statement, the North added that it “will not mind the South remaining in the office” and that it would notify the South about practical matters later. Seoul’s Vice Unification Minister Chun Hae-sung told reporters that South Korea plans to continue to staff the Kaesong liaison office normally and that it expects the North will continue to allow the South Koreans to commute to the office. He said Seoul plans to staff the office with 25 people on Saturday and Sunday.
The South Korean statement calls the North’s decision “regrettable.” It said South Korea urges the North to return its staff to the liaison office soon.
The liaison office opened last September as part of a flurry of reconciliation steps. It is the first such Korean office since the peninsula was split into a US-backed, capitalistic South and a Soviet-supported, socialist North in 1945. The Koreas had previously used telephone and fax-like communication channels that were often shut down in times of high tension.
The town is where the Korea’s now-stalled jointly run factory complex was located. It combined South Korean initiatives, capital and technology with North Korea’s cheap labor. Both Koreas want the US to allow sanctions exemptions to allow the reopening of the factory park, which provided the North with much-needed foreign currency.