EU launches legal action against UK

EU launches legal action against UK

EU launches legal action against UK

The European Union has launched legal action against the UK over Boris Johnson’s plans to tear up parts of the Brexit divorce deal.

Brussels had given Downing Street until the end of September to scrap the Prime Minister’s controversial proposals which are contained within the UK Internal Market Bill.

But the Prime Minister refused to respond to Brussels’ demand that he drop legislation that would overwrite the withdrawal agreement and break international law.

The Internal Market Bill would give ministers legal powers to override two elements of the Northern Ireland protocol, which Boris Johnson agreed last October in order to avoid a return to a hard border in Ireland.

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said this morning (Thursday) that the bloc had now started legal proceedings.

It has sent a ‘letter of formal notice’ to Number 10 which is the first step in the so-called ‘infringement procedure’.

The commission’s letter is the start of a lengthy process that could ultimately end in the European court of justice. The EU court in Luxembourg could impose huge daily fines for continued breaches.

The UK agreed to be bound by decisions of the court on cases begun before the end of the transition period on 31 December and for four years after that point.

By seeking to unilaterally change the terms of the agreement signed last year with Brussels, Von der Leyen said the UK had already failed to live up to its obligations to act in “good faith”.

“We had invited our British friends to remove the problematic parts of their draft internal market bill, by the end of September,” she said. “This draft bill is, by its very nature, a breach of the obligation of good faith, laid down in the withdrawal agreement. Moreover, if adopted as is it will be in full contradiction to the protocol on Ireland and Northern Ireland.”

She added: ”The problematic provisions have not been removed. Therefore this morning, the commission has decided to send a letter of formal notice to the UK government. This is the first step in an infringement procedure.”

A government spokesperson said: “We will respond to the letter in due course. We have clearly set out our reasons for introducing the measures related to the Northern Ireland protocol.”

The infringement procedure is a common tool used by the commission against member states. Last year alone there were 800 open cases.

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