The European Union

by Nick Hatton

It is an exciting time in our history, as the United Kingdom is in the process of leaving The European Union.

My heart goes out to all of the EU Law lecturers that will be looking for a new job at the end of the year. Well, I think a few of us were getting a little weary of hearing about Factortame, anyway.

R (on the application of Miller) v Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union has been very prominent in the news this week. The group that brought this case to court were die hard “remainers” that had hoped to stop the article 50 process in its tracks. 

However, supporters may have been underwhelmed by the limitations of the judicial review process. Rather than calling a halt to Britain leaving the EU, this court case has merely stimulated debate about the nature of prerogative powers and the processes needed to give effect to the referendum vote.

This may be sad for those of us that voted “remain”. I may feel more comfortable with the situation if I were to get my Irish passport- for this situation raises issues of identity as well as merely politics.

Ireland has won the EU over in recent years. It has certainly done its bit in facilitating free movement of citizens. I was reliably informed by a bus driver in Munster that 10% of Limerick’s population of 70,000 is Polish.

When I went to Mallow to visit family, a lady in a broad Cork accent told me to “work away” at the local newspaper. When I asked her where she was from, she told me “Hungary”.

However, cases like Commission of European Communities v Ireland  [1982] shows that it also knows how to rub Brussels up the wrong way. Here, Ireland was judged to have flouted competition laws by asking its citizens to “Buy Irish”.

The prospect of Ulster leaving the European Union but not the other provinces will lead to a very unusual relationship. The UK will be wise to at least retain a knowledge of the rules of its main trading partners. Our countries will always have a geographical partnership. This cannot simply be shed by referendum.