December 11, 2018
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European Union

EU court opinion: UK can reverse article 50 unilaterally

Brussels, Dec 4 (efe-epa).- The UK government can unilaterally reverse its decision to leave the European Union and remain in the bloc without the approval of its EU counterparts, the European Court of Justice said in an opinion on Tuesday, according to a report from the Dow Jones Newswires made available to EFE.

The opinion, if confirmed by a final court ruling, adds a twist to the already complex challenge facing British Prime Minister Theresa May as she tries to win parliamentary backing for her Brexit deal with the EU.

May argues that rejecting the deal in an upcoming vote could spell a disorderly exit. Opponents of Brexit can point to Tuesday's opinion to argue that Britain can avoid that outcome by unilaterally reversing its bid to leave the EU.

The ECJ will make a final ruling in coming weeks. It generally follows the opinions set out by its advocate generals but there have frequently been exceptions.

In his opinion, Advocate General Manuel Campos Sanchez-Bordona said it would be incompatible with international law to make a country's call to reverse its decision to leave the EU contingent on the agreement of the bloc's other members.

But he said there were certain conditions on that: one is that if a national parliament backed a decision to leave, a government would need lawmakers to back a decision to stay in the EU before reversing the move. The opinion also said that the member state must formally notify its EU partners and that the government in question must act in "good faith" to prevent abuse of the exit process.

British lawmakers on Tuesday begin five days of debates around two documents that make up the Brexit agreement: the legally binding tome dictating the UK's exit from the EU and a thin document outlining its future relationship with the bloc.

By Laurence Norman and Max Colchester

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