On 15 March 2018 the European Commission published a revised version of the draft Withdrawal Agreement between the EU and the UK previously published on 28 February 2018 following consultation with the Member States and the European Parliament. The revised document has been transmitted to the UK for negotiation. A comparison between the two drafts is available on our Brexit notes blog here.
In terms of State-to-State dispute settlement, little has changed since our blog post on 2 March 2018.
As was seen in the previous draft, under Part Six, Title III (“Dispute Settlement”), the Withdrawal Agreement proposes that a Joint Committee (co-chaired by representatives from each of the UK and the EU) be established to resolve disputes regarding the interpretation or application of the Withdrawal Agreement. In the event that the dispute cannot be resolved, then the Joint Committee itself, or either one of the UK or the EU, can refer the dispute to the CJEU under Article 162 (para. 1). The ruling from the CJEU is binding, and non-compliance with that ruling may result in the CJEU issuing a “lump sum or penalty payment”.
However, there is a slight change in when the rights of the EU or the UK arise to suspend rights and obligations in the event of such a dispute. Article 162 (para. 2) now states that, in the event that the dispute is not referred to the CJEU under paragraph 1 of that provision, then the EU or the UK may suspend aspects of the Withdrawal Agreement (other than those related to citizens’ rights) or any agreement between them “proportionate” to the gravity of the breach. In a further addition, paragraph 2 now states the EU or the UK, as the case may be, shall inform the other Party of its intention to suspend and allow the other Party, within 20 days, to remedy the situation. Any suspension shall take effect no earlier than 20 days after its notification to the other Party.
In view of the sensitivities over CJEU jurisdiction discussed in our earlier blog post, it will be interesting to see how the UK responds.