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Research Report

The UK withdrawal from the EU: Legal implications for Norway as party to the EEA Agreement

Christophe Hillion
Copyright Date: Jan. 1, 2017
Pages: 29

Table of Contents

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  1. (pp. 1-2)
  2. (pp. 3-3)
  3. (pp. 4-5)

    By leaving the European Union, the United Kingdom withdraws from all EU international commitments. The disentanglement of the UK from the EU will thus affect third states and organisations with which the EU entertains relations. Norway will be no exception, particularly in view of the many agreements the country has concluded with the EU, covering a wide range of areas and entailing a high degree of integration with the Union’s legal order².

    In some areas, the UK withdrawal will affect Norway like any other third country partner to the EU. In others, Norway will find itself in a unique situation....

  4. (pp. 6-10)

    The EEA Agreement contains a specific exit clause in its Article 127 which recognises the right for ‘each Contracting Party’ to withdraw from the Agreement³. Two questions thus arise: First, does the UK have an obligation (and not only a right) to leave the EEA in connection with its withdrawal from the EU (2.1.)? Second, what is the procedure to be followed to ensure an orderly withdrawal from the EEA (2.2.)?

    In the terminology of EU law, the EEA Agreement is a ‘mixed agreement’. This means that the EU has concluded the Agreement together with its Member States, because the...

  5. (pp. 11-25)

    As seen above, Article 127 EEA draws up a procedure to be followed by the UK to withdraw from the EEA (how and when to notify) and a procedure for the remaining EEA parties to introduce necessary modifications into the Agreement to reflect the UK withdrawal. Arguably, the provision can only cater for a ‘hard brexit’ from the EEA, as it does not foresee any negotiations between the UK and the other Contracting Parties on the terms of withdrawal.

    Such negotiations are however a key component of the EU withdrawal process as governed by Article 50 TEU. Norway and the...

  6. (pp. 26-27)

    When leaving the EU legal order, the UK will also have to disentangle itself from EU external agreements, including the EEA Agreement.

    UK withdrawal from the EU automatically entails withdrawal from those parts of the EEA Agreement that are covered by EU law. However, the UK may continue to be an autonomous Contracting Party to the EEA Agreement for areas considered to fall within its competences until it activates the exit procedure, contained in Article 127 EEA.

    Should the UK choose not to activate Article 127 EEA, it could not however expect to remain a full participant in the EEA,...

  7. (pp. 28-28)