UK could submit to European Free Trade Association court after Brexit to keep EU access

Brexit negotiations: Four biggest issuesNewsweek

A senior European judge thinks that he has a viable compromise for the UK so that it can maintain full access to EU's single-market and not step over one of Theresa May's negotiating "red lines", it emerged on Monday 21 August.

Professor Carl Baudenbacher, president of the court of the European Free Trade Association (Efta), has suggested that Britain could submit to his court instead of the European Court of Justice (ECJ). The Efta body currently oversees the relationship between the non-EU nations of Norway, Iceland, Switzerland and Liechtenstein and the 27 nation bloc.

"If the UK sought a bespoke agreement with the EU, it would in my view need to accept a court. It is unlikely that the EU would agree to any such arrangement without a judicial mechanism," Baudenbacher told The Times.

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Baudenbacher made a similar case in June, when he told The Daily Express: "The Efta Court is a fully independent court, there are no links to the ECJ. We stand on our own feet. As regards law on the books, we are bound to follow the ECJ's pre-1992 case law.

"That set the level playing-field across the single market. But as regards law in action they also follow us in many, many cases. They have followed us, so this imagined one-way street has developed in practice into a judicial dialogue.

"Judging is not an exact science and to have your own people on the separate independent court has turned out to be an advantage for the Efta States."

The comments come as Brexit Secretary David Davis plans to unveil more position papers for the two-year-long divorce talks with Brussels. "While we believe this will require a new and unique solution, our paper will examine a number of precedents," Davis, on the issue of Efta, told The Sunday Times.

The UK government is also reportedly committed to a post-Brexit transition deal with the EU in a bid to avoid a so-called "cliff edge" for British businesses. But such an arrangement would temporarily stop the UK brokering its own free trade arrangements with non-EU nations since Britain will still be in the EU's customs union.

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