Header image of the Tilburg Law and Economics Center (TILEC)

Tilburg Law and Economics Center

TILEC supports and stimulates academic research on the governance of economic activity. It fosters academically path breaking and practically relevant research and aims to be a leading center worldwide.

Work In Progress: Alastair MacIver

'Reverse Greenland' and ‘Reverse Green Line’ as Responses to Brexit: Some Doubts about Territorial Differentiation
10:45-12:00, M 1003

Alastair MacIver is currently teaching Introduction to European Law to GLB and Liberal Arts students at Tilburg University. He is also a Doctoral Researcher at the European University Institute, Florence. Before starting his doctorate at the European University Institute, he interned in the Chambers of Judge Schiemann at the Court of Justice of European Union; in the Legal Service of the European Parliament and in a number of different law firms. During the Spring Semester of 2015, he was a Michigan Grotius Research Scholar at the University of Michigan Law School.

His research addresses the boundaries of the state polity in the European Union.


In the wake of the United Kingdom’s vote to leave the European Union, pleas for territorial differentiation have been presented and assessed by both domestic law-makers and academic lawyers. Such proposals have sought to give expression to the varied contours of the vote; whereas voting areas in England and Wales returned a leave result, those in Scotland, Northern Ireland and Gibraltar recorded majorities for remain. After the High Court’s judgment of 3rd November in R. (Miller) v. Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union, holding that Parliament, and not the UK Government, has the power to notify withdrawal under Article 50 TEU, a path to such differentiation may also now be more clearly identified. Both scholars and political actors have raised the prospect of a differentiated deal for the United Kingdom in three different versions. Firstly, Siobhan Douglas-Scott and Tobias Lock have notably proposed a so-called ‘Reverse Greenland’ option whereby all the component parts of the United Kingdom would retain their current constitutional status but while England and Wales would leave the European Union, Scotland, Northern Ireland and Gibraltar would remain. This proposal seeks specifically to draw an analogy with the Greenland Treaty of 1985 pursuant to which Greenland, as a constituent part of Denmark, saw its will to “leave” the European Union (or then EEC) enacted. Secondly, Nikos Skoutaris has set out a similar analogy with the legal arrangements in Cyprus under Protocol 10 of the Accession Treaty according to which, due to the absence of effective control beyond the ‘Green Line’, the application of the acquis has been suspended in part of the territory of that Member State. (One might call this second option ‘Reverse Green Line’.) In a third alternative hypothesis, while England and Wales pursue a ‘hard Brexit’ model outside the single market, the idea of separate EEA or EFTA membership for Scotland and Northern Ireland has also been mooted. This paper presents an analysis of these three proposals for territorial differentiation based on an examination of the EFTA Treaty and the territorial scope of the EU Treaties set out in Article 355 TFEU. Doubts about the attractions of all three models are raised from the perspective of maximising the self-determination of all the principal actors involved: England, Wales, Northern Ireland, Scotland and the United Kingdom, on the one hand, and the European Union, on the other.

When: 09 November 2016 10:45

End date: 09 November 2016 12:00

Where: Montesquieu building