Michael Gove’s claim that the EU reforms secured by the Prime Minister could yet be overturned by European judges prompted firm denials from Downing Street, Donald Tusk and the Government’s chief legal adviser.
The Justice Secretary claimed that the European Court of Justice (ECJ) was “not bound” by the agreement “until treaties are changed”.
His claim was contradicted by the Attorney General, Jeremy Wright, who said the agreements would have “equivalent legal force” to treaties. Mr Tusk, the EU Council President, called the agreement “legally binding and irreversible”.
Experts in EU law told The Independent that while Mr Gove might have been technically correct that the ECJ could receive challenges to the changes, it was highly unlikely judges would throw them out.
“They could be challenged,” said Professor Sir Alan Dashwood, a former director of the EU Councl legal service. “I imagine a benefit claimant feeling peeved because his child benefit was being [linked] to the much lower cost of living in an Eastern European country, might well bring proceedings, but I can’t see any grounds on which they would win.”
Professor Alexander Turk from the Dickson Poon School of Law at King’s College London said: “The ECJ would have to think very long and hard to overturn an arrangement which has been agreed over many months in a difficult political situation. The Court would have to be convinced this is worth derailing.”