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1 Oct, 2020 11:15

‘The deadline lapsed yesterday’: EU launches legal action against UK over ‘problematic’ Brexit bill

‘The deadline lapsed yesterday’: EU launches legal action against UK over ‘problematic’ Brexit bill

The EU has activated a legal process against the UK after it failed to amend its controversial ‘Internal Market Bill’ which Brussels considers inconsistent with the previously agreed Brexit withdrawal agreement.

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said Thursday that Brussels had sent a formal letter of notice to the UK and that London had until the end of September to remove the “problematic parts” of its draft Internal Market Bill, including the part on the Irish border issue.

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 Northern Ireland.

“The deadline lapsed yesterday,” von der Leyen said, explaining that the letter of formal notice to the British government was the first step in launching the infringement procedure. 

“The Commission will continue to work hard towards the full and timely implementation of the Withdrawal Agreement. We stand by our commitments,” she said.

The UK government now has a month to reply to the complaint. The EU will then assess Britain’s arguments once more and may ask it to amend the bill again. If London refuses again, the EU could sue the UK at the Luxembourg-based European Court of Justice.


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Following the announcement, a spokesperson for the British government reiterated that London has “clearly set our reasons” for altering the Brexit withdrawal deal agreed upon in January. 

We need to create a legal safety net to protect the integrity of the UK’s internal market, ensure ministers can always deliver on their obligations to Northern Ireland and protect the gains from the peace process.

Meanwhile, Michael Gove, the UK minister responsible for Brexit issues, said he believed an agreement could still be reached with "goodwill on both sides" but London has "clear red lines" that it will not cross.

The House of Commons approved the hotly-debated Internal Market Bill on Tuesday. The legislation is aimed at preserving a single market across different parts of the UK, including Northern Ireland, which borders the Republic of Ireland, a member of the EU. Brussels strongly objects to the provisions that would allow London to override the Withdrawal Agreement if the EU and the UK do not agree on how to implement the deal for Northern Ireland.

Britain’s Northern Ireland Secretary Brandon Lewis admitted last month that the controversial bill would break international law "in a very specific and limited way.”

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