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The European Commission on Monday threatened the British government with legal action after the presentation of its bill unilaterally calling into question the post-Brexit customs status of Northern Ireland.
After the presentation by the British government, Monday, June 13, of a controversial bill modifying the Northern Irish protocol concluded with the European Union within the framework of Brexit, Brussels threatened London with legal action.
“It is with great concern that we take note of the UK government’s decision today to introduce legislation overriding essential elements of the protocol. Unilateral action undermines mutual trust,” the deputy said. -President Maros Sefcovic. “As a first step, the Commission will consider continuing the infringement procedure against the UK government in March 2021,” he added.
EU-UK relations must be based on full compliance with our legally binding commitments.
My statement to the UK government’s decision to table legislation de-enforcing essential elements of the protocol on IE/NI 👉 https://t.co/lLy2sdZdFa. pic.twitter.com/gjTXD7YYHv
— Maroš Šefčovič🇪🇺 (@MarosSefcovic) June 13, 2022
The European Union does not renegotiate the protocol
This procedure, which can lead to a referral to European justice, was put on hold by the Commission in September 2021, “in a spirit of constructive cooperation, to allow the search for common solutions”, he recalled. “The unilateral action of the United Kingdom goes directly against this spirit”, denounced the European official.
He also raised the prospect of new infringement procedures to “protect the single market against the risks that breaching the protocol poses to EU businesses and to the health and safety of EU citizens”. He reaffirmed that “the European Union would not renegotiate the protocol” which governs trade between Great Britain and Northern Ireland.
But he at the same time called on the British government to “engage with (the Commission) in common solutions”. “In line with the EU’s strong and long-standing commitment to businesses and people in Northern Ireland, we will soon present in more detail our model for flexible implementation of the protocol, based on durable solutions in the protocol,” he said. “It has resolved that solutions to the issues raised by businesses and citizens in Northern Ireland do exist,” he added.
To avoid the return of a border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, a member of the EU, the protocol creates a customs border between the British province and the island of Great Britain.
This situation disrupts the territory’s supplies and sows anger in the Unionist community attached to remaining within the United Kingdom. For Brussels, these provisions in force since January 1, 2021 are essential to protect the integrity of the European market.