The European Commission has presented a “note verbale” to the Swiss Federal Council as Depositary of the Lugano Convention regarding the UK’s application to accede to the Convention, submitted on 8 April 2020. This states that:
“The European Commission, representing the European Union, would like to notify to you that the European Union is not in a position to give its consent to invite the United Kingdom to accede to the Lugano Convention.”
As we have previously reported, the Commission had already confirmed its view that the EU should not consent to the UK’s application to accede to the Lugano Convention, and said it would give the European Parliament and the Council an opportunity to express their views before informing the Depositary accordingly. It is not clear to what extent the current note verbale has been informed by such views.
It remains our understanding that the decision as to whether or not to consent to the UK’s accession is ultimately a decision for the Council to take, by qualified majority voting. However, unless and until a proposal is put to a vote by the Council (and, of course, the Council votes in favour of giving its consent) the UK will remain unable to accede. There may therefore be something of an impasse.