The UK government envisaged a clean break from the Union but, under the Withdrawal Agreement, the UK’s legal position as a “third state” is ambiguous. Throughout the transition period, the UK is in many respects hardly distinguishable from an EU member state. After the transition period, the UK remains outside Union institutions, but applies core EU rules in respect of specific persons (EU citizens settled in the UK) or areas (Northern Ireland). Furthermore, UK authorities must apply these EU rules in light of EU principles and are, by and large, subject to the control of EU institutions, particularly the Court of Justice. Several aspects of the new legal status of the UK are a déjà vu, since the Withdrawal Agreement is relatively similar to “integration-oriented agreements”, such as Association Agreements. To be sure, this similitude is imperfect, as the degree of integration of the United Kingdom varies considerably, depending on the subject matter, the persons and regions concerned, and/or the moment when the law is applied. The UK’s legal position, therefore, remains complex and contradictory: as it was the least integrated member of the Union, it is now a very integrated third state.

Legal Status of the United Kingdom as a Third State: Strange Déjá Vu

Mauro Gatti
2021

Abstract

The UK government envisaged a clean break from the Union but, under the Withdrawal Agreement, the UK’s legal position as a “third state” is ambiguous. Throughout the transition period, the UK is in many respects hardly distinguishable from an EU member state. After the transition period, the UK remains outside Union institutions, but applies core EU rules in respect of specific persons (EU citizens settled in the UK) or areas (Northern Ireland). Furthermore, UK authorities must apply these EU rules in light of EU principles and are, by and large, subject to the control of EU institutions, particularly the Court of Justice. Several aspects of the new legal status of the UK are a déjà vu, since the Withdrawal Agreement is relatively similar to “integration-oriented agreements”, such as Association Agreements. To be sure, this similitude is imperfect, as the degree of integration of the United Kingdom varies considerably, depending on the subject matter, the persons and regions concerned, and/or the moment when the law is applied. The UK’s legal position, therefore, remains complex and contradictory: as it was the least integrated member of the Union, it is now a very integrated third state.
The Evolving Nature of EU External Relations Law
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: http://hdl.handle.net/11585/798966
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