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EU’s legal action against UK over post-Brexit deal change

written by Bella Palmer

The bill is aimed at changing trade, tax and governance arrangements in the 2019 deal but the EU believes the unilateral move is illegal

The European Union (EU) on Wednesday set the UK a two-month deadline to respond to legal action as it challenged issues arising out of British Prime Minister Boris Johnson's plan to override parts of the Brexit agreement struck in 2019 relating to Northern Ireland, even as Britain insisted it is ‘obliged’ to change certain aspects of the pact.

The UK government had tabled a new Northern Ireland Protocol Bill in Parliament earlier this week, which Britain insists is aimed at fixing parts of the Northern Ireland Protocol and denies any potential breach of international law.

The bill is aimed at changing trade, tax and governance arrangements in the 2019 deal but the EU believes the unilateral move is illegal.

If the UK doesn't reply within two months we may take them to the court of justice, said Maros Sefcovic, vice-president of the European Commission.

Let there be no doubt: there is no legal nor political justification whatsoever for unilaterally changing an international agreement. This is illegal. The UK bill is extremely damaging to mutual trust and respect between the EU and the UK. It has created deep uncertainty and casts a shadow over our international cooperation, he said.

The Commission confirmed that Brussels will also resume legal proceedings against the UK, which it suspended in September last year, for breaching the EU withdrawal treaty agreed in 2020.

It is disappointing that the EU has chosen to relaunch legal proceedings relating to the grace periods currently in place, which are vital to stop the problems caused by the Protocol from getting worse, a UK government spokesperson said.

The UK’s preference remains for a negotiated solution but the proposals set out by the EU today are the same proposals we have been discussing for months and would not solve the problems in many cases they take us backwards from current arrangements, the spokesperson said.


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