Following a heated extraordinary plenary session held on 28 June 2016, MEPs have continued debating the topic of Brexit, led by the Committee on Constitutional Affairs (AFCO).
On 5 September 2016, AFCO held a workshop on the future constitutional relationship of the UK and EU, inviting four experts to speak.
Francisco Aldecoa Luzárraga of the Fundacion Alternativas saw Brexit as an opportunity for European institutions, given the absence of the UK’s traditional veto on deeper integration. Likewise, Mercedes Guinea Lorenete recommended that the Parliament considers how to use Brexit as an opportunity. Indeed, it seems that the institutions are already seizing such opportunities with a European ‘defence union’ being proposed by France and Germany and the proposal of a Pan-European tax, both of which the UK has historically opposed.
Meanwhile, René Repasi of the University of Rotterdam warned that, if the UK left the EU without any negotiation provisions for the single passport, which allows financial services operators legally established in one Member State to freely conduct business in all other Member States, non-EU financial subsidiaries established in the UK could lose their access to the European single market, instead having to request a ‘third-country’ passport.
Steve Peers of the University of Essex raised the issue of acquired and vested rights, which, according to the Vienna Convention on Treaties, are protected under international law, thereby potentially enabling UK citizens living in other EU member states and EU nationals living in the UK to maintain some form of immigration permission. He noted that Greenland’s exit had contained an acquired rights clause for immigration status, which could stand as legal precedent.
Richard Corbett, a UK Labour MEP, cited the protests across the UK against Brexit and suggested that the withdrawal agreement could contain a conditionality clause stating that the agreement will only take effect once the negotiations regarding the future relationship have been completed, thereby delaying the deadline for a final agreement. Max Andersson MEP of Sweden alternatively suggested that the UK could firstly join the EEA and then negotiate a tailor-made agreement for access to the EU single market.
Meanwhile other MEPs urged the need for an adequate political response to Brexit whilst Pascal Durand, a French MEP, said that the EU could not wait in a ‘state of suspension’ for the UK government to trigger Article 50 TEU.