The European Court of Justice (ECJ) will still have influence over UK law after Brexit as part of a bid to protect the rights of European Union citizens living in Britain, according to leaked documents.
Brussels is expected to demand that EU citizens in the UK should keep all the rights they presently enjoy as part of the Brexit deal, thus keeping them subject to the ECJ.
EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier wants to demand Britain keeps applying ECJ rulings on pensions, employment, and welfare rights for three million EU citizens living in the UK, raising concerns that Britain will still be held accountable to the court even after it has left the EU.
The strategy may even extend to the relatives of EU citizens, meaning they could still travel freely to Britain after Brexit, and that controversial rules allowing child benefits to be paid to children living outside the UK would remain in place.
The approach has been backed by European Parliament President Antonio Tajani, who told The Times it was a “red line” issue and that MEPs would veto the Brexit deal if it did not include protecting the rights of EU citizens in the UK.
The demand comes despite Prime Minister Theresa May pledging to “bring an end to the jurisdiction of the court in Britain”, a policy that is expected to appear in the Conservative Party’s manifesto for the forthcoming general election.
Speaking after meeting Mrs. May at Downing Street on Thursday, Mr. Tajani took a much softer tone than suggested in the document.
“This is the most important message – we want to work together,” he said.
“It is a good start, a good beginning, now we need to go for implementation.”
Conservative MP Bill Cash said it would be “completely impossible” for Mrs. May to agree to such a deal.
“The manner and depth of this authority would suggest that we are not leaving the EU at all. From the day we leave we cannot and will not be subject to the ECJ.”