Britain should be allowed to unilaterally revoke its departure notice from the European Union, an adviser to the bloc’s highest court said on Tuesday, before a landmark ruling in the coming weeks.
The non-binding opinion for the European Court of Justice (ECJ) comes as the British parliament begins five days of debate on Prime Minister Theresa May’s proposed Brexit deal with the EU before voting on it next Tuesday.
“Advocate General (Manuel) Campos Sanchez-Bordona proposes that the Court of Justice should declare that Article 50 ... allows the unilateral revocation of the notification of the intention to withdraw from the EU,” the ECJ said.
“That possibility continues to exist until such time as the withdrawal agreement is formally concluded,” it said in a statement, meaning Britain would have to notify the EU that it has changed its mind before Brexit day, on March 29, 2019.
“The Advocate General emphasises that withdrawal from an international treaty, which is the reverse of treaty-making power, is by definition a unilateral act of a state party and a manifestation of its sovereignty,” the court also said.
“A member state which decides to withdraw is to notify the European Council of ‘its intention’ - and not of its decision - to withdraw, and such an intention may change,” it added. “It would be illogical to force that member state to withdraw from the EU in order to then have to negotiate its accession.”
The court, which tends to follow the advocate general’s opinion in its final decisions, did not give an exact date for the ruling but it is expected in the coming weeks.