Can Brexit really be stopped?
Exit from Brexit : "The sooner the exit procedure is stopped, the better"
Mr Thym, according to opinion polls, a majority of British people are now against Brexit. How do you rate that?
This is hardly surprising, because the majority in favor of Brexit was already very tight in the referendum in June 2016 and the Brexiteers used wrong arguments at the time. A majority in the UK now realizes that leaving the EU has more disadvantages than was initially thought. The process shows that referendums are unsuitable for such highly complex topics. Parliamentary democracy is the better instrument for this.
Can Brexit still be reversed?
Why, surely. To do this, the British would have to change their minds permanently. From a political point of view, a new referendum would be mandatory. But a parliamentary election would also be conceivable, in which a top candidate from a party stands with the clear announcement that in the event of an election victory, the application to leave the EU will be withdrawn.
How would this work in practice?
The British Prime Minister May expressed her wish to leave under Article 50 of the EU Treaty in a letter to Brussels in March 2017. A letter would also have to be sent to stop the proceedings.
By when would such a step be feasible before Britain's planned exit from the EU in March next year?
The sooner this happened, the better it would be. From a legal point of view, an exit from Brexit at the last minute will probably only work with the consent of all the other 27 EU member states.
Would the consent of the remaining member states always be compulsory?
The lawyers are divided because the European treaties are silent on this issue. If the majority opinion in Great Britain changes permanently - as I said after a change of government or a second referendum - then, in my opinion, there are good reasons to forego the consent of the other 27 states. The prerequisite, however, would be that the exit from Brexit does not happen at the very last minute when the exit agreement has already been signed.
If the approval of the remaining 27 states were required, would a government decision be sufficient or would the parliaments have to approve?
That is a question of the respective national constitutional law. In Germany, a government resolution would probably be sufficient, for which the Bundestag can of course make a recommendation.
How long would British politicians be bound to revoking the Brexit decision?
That cannot be narrowed down exactly. The only thing that is clear is that revocation cannot be used as a procedural trick. The British must not abuse the revocation in order to try a Brexit again two years later.
Under what conditions could the UK stay in the EU? Would the reform package that the then Prime Minister David Cameron negotiated in early 2016 still apply? At that time, the other EU countries granted Cameron a clause according to which EU foreigners can be excluded from social benefits in certain cases.
This regulation would no longer apply legally in the event of an exit from Brexit. If the EU institutions voluntarily revived these privileges for the British, then there would be nothing wrong with it. But basically, if the British stay in the EU, then on the terms before the referendum. So you cannot use the exit procedure to negotiate further privileges. Such an approach would ultimately encourage other Member States to improve their status through a sham withdrawal procedure.
In the event of a new decision against Brexit, would the other member states welcome the British back with open arms?
I don't think the rest of the countries want to drive the British out of the Union. From the point of view of the Eastern European countries, for example, it would make sense that their citizens could continue to work in Great Britain under the usual conditions. Add to this financial considerations: the UK is a net contributor despite the UK rebate. If the British stayed in the Community, the financial situation for the EU would also ease. That would be an important point for the Eastern Europeans, who are currently essentially among the recipients of transfer payments. French President Macron also has no problems with British EU membership, unlike former head of state de Gaulle. And Germany has always seen Great Britain as an important partner country anyway.
The interview was conducted by Albrecht Meier.
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