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.


Floods force millions to flee homes in South Asia

A man looks out of the window of his partially submerged home in flood-hit Kahchin, Myanmar. (Reuters)
Updated 32 sec ago
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Floods force millions to flee homes in South Asia

  • Death toll in Nepal and Bangladesh rises to 76 after days of heavy rains

KATMANDU: Floods have forced more than 3 million people from their homes across north and northeastern India, officials said on Monday, as the death toll in neighboring Nepal and low-lying Bangladesh rose to 76 after days of heavy monsoon rains.

Worst affected is the northern Indian state of Bihar, where some 1.9 million people have fled their homes due to rising waters, a state government release said.
Television channels showed roads and railway lines in Bihar submerged, with people wading through chest-high, brown, churning waters, carrying their belongings on their heads.
An impoverished agrarian province with rickety infrastructure and poor health care services, Bihar has a history of flooding in its northern areas that border Nepal.
Flood waters in the northeastern Indian state of Assam rose overnight with the Brahmaputra River, which flows down from the Himalayas into Bangladesh, and its tributaries still in spate. More than 1.7 million people in Assam have been displaced by the floods, authorities said, and most of the Kaziranga National Park, home to the rare one-horned rhino, was also under water.
“The flood situation has turned very critical with 31 of the 32 districts affected,” said Assam Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal said.
“We are working on a war footing to deal with the flood situation.”
Known for its tea industry, Assam is often inundated by seasonal flooding, and state and federal governments have spent millions of rupees on flood control.
India’s weather office on Monday forecast widespread rains across Assam and Bihar for the next two days.
In neighboring Nepal, 64 people were killed and 31 were missing, with around a third of all districts hit by heavy rains, authorities said. Many of the deaths were caused by landslides that swept away houses.

We are working on a war footing to deal with the flood situation.

                Sarbananda Sonowal, Chief minister of Assam

In southeast Nepal, water levels on the Kosi River, which flows into Bihar, had receded, an district official said. In 2008, the Kosi broke its banks and changed course, inundating huge tracts of land and killing 500 people.
“Our analysis is that the danger is over now that the water level has come down,” Chiranjibi Giri, assistant district administrator of Sunsari district, told Reuters.
The annual monsoon season, which brings the most rain across south Asia, also hit Bangladesh hard, forcing an estimated 190,000 people out of their homes, government officials said.
In Cox’s Bazar district, shelter to some 700,000 Rohingya refugees who fled violence in neighboring Myanmar, more than 100,000 people have been displaced.
Since early July, flooding and landslides have damaged thousands of shelters at the refugee camps, killing two people, including a child, Human Rights Watch said in a release last week.