Interesting point on the EEA

This is apparently old news, but does the UK Government need to give notice of leaving the European Economic Area or not?

Until five minutes ago (HT the roads fans on SABRE), I would have said no.  Then I read the preamble of the agreement of the EEA, specifically the contracting parties.

The contracting parties are not the EU, Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein.

The contracting parties are the EU, the members of the EU in their own right, Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein:

THE EUROPEAN COMMUNITY,
THE KINGDOM OF BELGIUM,
THE REPUBLIC OF BULGARIA
THE CZECH REPUBLIC,
THE KINGDOM OF DENMARK,
THE FEDERAL REPUBLIC OF GERMANY,
THE REPUBLIC OF ESTONIA,
IRELAND,
THE HELLENIC REPUBLIC,
THE KINGDOM OF SPAIN,
THE FRENCH REPUBLIC,
THE REPUBLIC OF CROATIA,
THE ITALIAN REPUBLIC,
THE REPUBLIC OF CYPRUS,
THE REPUBLIC OF LATVIA,
THE REPUBLIC OF LITHUANIA,
THE GRAND DUCHY OF LUXEMBOURG,
HUNGARY,
THE REPUBLIC OF MALTA,
THE KINGDOM OF THE NETHERLANDS,
THE REPUBLIC OF AUSTRIA,
THE REPUBLIC OF POLAND,
THE PORTUGUESE REPUBLIC,
ROMANIA
THE REPUBLIC OF SLOVENIA,
THE SLOVAK REPUBLIC,
THE REPUBLIC OF FINLAND,
THE KINGDOM OF SWEDEN,
THE UNITED KINGDOM OF GREAT BRITAIN AND NORTHERN IRELAND,

AND

ICELAND,
THE PRINCIPALITY OF LIECHTENSTEIN,
THE KINGDOM OF NORWAY

hereinafter referred to as the CONTRACTING PARTIES;

In British law, the EEA agreement has been added to the list of “Treaties” in the European Communities Act 1972, and I expect that other countries have taken a similar approach.

However, the EEA agreement is not part of the Treaties of the European Union.  It is referenced four times, but that’s it.  The Article 50 notification does not reference the EEA agreement.

Therefore, as a full contracting party to the EEA, on the face of it, the British Government may have to invoke Article 127 of the EEA agreement by 29 March 2018 in order to leave the EEA on the same day as it leaves the EU.

The counter argument is that the UK will neither be a member of the EU nor EFTA after 29 March 2019 (the so-called two pillars of the EEA).  Only the courts will be able to sort that one out.

Popcorn, anyone?

Andy has a very wide range of interests including Christianity, Lego, transport, music, and computers. Anything can appear in a post.

Andy tweets at @andyboal