The Euratom row lays bare the innate flaws of Brexit. But it also gives pro-Europeans their biggest chance yet to regain the initiative. Our politicians have belatedly woken up to the fact that amongst the many complex implications of Brexit are some very serious issues to do with nuclear safety, nuclear waste and nuclear medicine. These arise because the government’s Hard Brexit plan entails leaving the European Atomic Energy Community (Euratom) which, in turn, arises because although Euratom is not part of the EU it falls within the jurisdiction of the ECJ. Although the ECJ has in fact made very few judgments regarding Euratom, Theresa May has made leaving all forms of its jurisdiction a non-negotiable red line, and so leaving Euratom was included in both the Article 50 letter and the parliamentary Act which authorised her to send that letter. This may now lead to a parliamentary rebellion amongst Tory MPs against, at least, this aspect of Brexit, meaning it is possible the government will not have a majority for it. But what is happening with Euratom points up very sharply a whole series of extremely significant questions about Brexit in general. Perhaps the most important question – the nuclear question, so to speak – is that given there are very strong and obvious reasons for avoiding the chaos, damage, cost and complexity of leaving Euratom then do these not apply even more strongly to the entire matter of leaving the EU? Could Euratom be the first major crack that will bring down the whole ill-conceived edifice of Brexit?
New European 21st July 2017 read more »