UK Policy Paper – Enforcement and dispute resolution

This policy paper discusses options for enforcement and dispute resolution mechanisms for UK-EU agreements after the UK has left the EU.

The direct jurisdiction of the Court of Justice of the EU (CJEU) in the UK will end after our withdrawal from the EU. There needs to be an agreement between the UK and the EU on how the provisions of the Withdrawal Agreement can be monitored and implemented to the satisfaction of both sides, and how any disputes which arise can be resolved.

After leaving the EU, the UK will become a “third country” as far as the EU are concerned. Many free trade agreements between the EU and with third countries include provisions on resolving disputes through a binding arbitration model in addition to mechanisms for political agreement. Examples include the EU-Canada Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA), the EU-Singapore Free Trade Agreement as well as the Ukraine and Moldova Association Agreements. There are currently no precedents for the CJEU to act as the means of enforcing an international agreement between the EU and one or more third countries and there does not appear to be any sound reason for the EU to try and enforce the jurisdiction of the CJEU other than for (EU) political reasons.

The UK position is that where the Withdrawal Agreement or future relationship agreements between the UK and the EU are intended to give rise to rights or obligations for individuals and businesses operating within the UK then, where appropriate, these will be given effect in UK law. Those rights or obligations will be enforced by the UK courts and ultimately by the UK Supreme Court.

There is no precedent, and indeed no imperative driven by EU, UK or international law, which demands that enforcement or dispute resolution of future UK-EU agreements falls under the direct jurisdiction of the CJEU.

The precedents examined in this paper demonstrate that there are a number of additional means by which the EU has entered into agreements which offer assurance of effective enforcement and dispute resolution and, where appropriate, avoidance of divergence, without necessitating the direct jurisdiction of the CJEU over a third party.

Such an arrangement, whereby the highest court of one party would act as the means of enforcing or interpreting an agreement between the two parties, would be exceptional in international agreements. The UK will therefore engage constructively to negotiate an approach to enforcement and dispute resolution which meets the key objectives of both the UK and the EU in underpinning the effective operation of a new partnership.

More details of the UKs position regarding future Enforcement and Dispute Resolution procedures are set out in the Policy Paper available at:

Enforcement and dispute resolution (pdf)