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The European Elections will be increasingly prominent in the debate about extensions to Article 50. I have not yet seen anybody try to sort out several unanswered questions about this unprecedented situation. (The situation may be messier than is commonly asserted).
Some key dates:
- April 18th: European parliamentary session ends.
- May 23rd - May 26th: European Parliamentary Elections
- July 2nd: new European Parliament convenes for first time.

EU members have a legal obligation to hold European Elections.
- UK is not planning to take part in the EU elections, because Article 50 expires on 29th March. So extension to 22nd May would be similar.
- It is often said an extension to 1st July could involve a derogation (UK not taking part) as would not be a member when EP convenes
Reallocation of UK's seats in the European Parliament takes place once the UK has ceased to be a member. (Does this mean reallocation does not happen if the UK is still a member, but is not planning to take part? That scenario not envisaged, but possible)
Derogation scenario complicated by this type of situation.
- UK/EU agree extension to May 22nd/June 30th.
- discussion (say May 10th, or June 1st) of further extension, eg 12 months.
- UK now acquires an obligation to hold (unplanned) EP elections. Obvs can't do so on schedule
Some assume this means UK could not get further extension. Unproven. I am sceptical about that. Article 50 is extendable by mutual consent. Can member lose that right??

Unanswered questions. What legal redress re no election? Eg would member be told to schedule own elections?
One little known fact is that the 2018 Withdrawal Act *repealed* the 2002 European Parliamentary Elections Act. So primary legislation is needed. It is not clear UK could hold elections by May 23rd even if decided on long extension by March 22nd (rather than later).
There would be legal challenges to the lack of an election. Sinn Fein should challenge (its one assembly they attend!). So would Nigel Farage.

Could there be legal challenges to an election organised very late (if eg nomination periods, campaign spending rules unworkable)?
It is conceivable that a government which accepted it had an obligation to hold EP elections, and tried to legislate, could not deliver the elections on time. (Parliamentary deadlock). After extension agreed!

What would the legal position be then? What sanction/redress/timeline?
Eg, a state could be told by ECJ it has an obligation to schedule (delayed) EP elections.
* But would there be a prescriptive time is of the essence requirement to expedite?
* or could a state dawdle? Catch up in 12 months/on next local elections/GE/a referendum day?
Was something useful in EP elections scheduling: an answer to my "Brexit Indecision Rule" (that any decision that can be delayed, will be delayed). They seemed to make the Deal/No Deal/Long Delay forced choice unavoidable.

If can evade that, Article 50 Groundhog Day risk rises
I had thought April 18th was a hard deadline for EP ratification of a Brexit deal (Withdrawal Agreement) ahead of July 2nd. That is a red herring. The outgoing European Parliament can be recalled even *after* May 23rd to May 26th
Again, I think nobody can say definitively. Could it be argued that
* the (second) extension (say it was on June 6th) was *unforeseen* as it had not been intended on 22nd March
* that a fair process would take longer, and so to argue they should/could happen later
It would be an unprecedented mess. I have no EU law expertise. But it seems v.possible to argue that losing the right to extend a50 is disproportionate. (Seems to relate to some of the key ECJ points for unilateral revocation right:can not force a state to leave against its will)
ECJ ruling shows a departing member could unilaterally revoke on the eve of departure (even if that was European Elections eve, or 4 weeks later).

v.unlikely politically. But this suggests the idea that failure to schedule EP elections *rules out* an A50 extension is unproven.
Richard Corbett has considered these scenarios. Thinks "catch-up elections" are a possible answer to the messy very late re-extension scenario
The repeal issue may *not* be a barrier. The requirements for nomination periods, etc would remain a constraint on a decision in May to re-extend

If 2019 European Elections did take place, my initial thoughts on the potential political dynamics

George Peretz has written an admirably clear piece on what is known, and what is unclear, about European Elections

Input from @inskpringed that the legislation is not an issue if the government has acted by April 12th. (Elections on May 23rd appear impossible if that doesn't happen)

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