The EU will formally begin the process of legal action against the UK government following last month’s controversial announcement that the UK will pursue new legislation in breach of parts of the Brexit withdrawal agreement signed last year.
The European Commission Chief Ursula von der Leyen said in a short address on Thursday that the EU has sent a ‘letter of formal notice to the UK government’ which begins the EUs ‘infringement proceedings.’ Von der Leyen went on to say the ‘draft bill is by its very nature a breach of the obligation of good faith laid down in the withdrawal agreement.’ The UK government has one month to respond to the letter.
This comes following the UK government’s failure to meet a deadline of the end of September which the EU set out in response to the UK’s announcement of a new Internal Market Bill last month. The proposed bill breaches international law by contradicting the protocol surrounding Northern Ireland which was agreed to during last year’s Brexit negotiations. The Northern Ireland protocol includes Northern Ireland continuing to follow EU trading regulations in order to avoid the creation of a highly controversial hard border in Ireland.
The Northern Ireland Secretary Brandon Lewis has previously admitted that the new bill does break international law in a ‘very specific and limited way.’ The UK government continues to insist the new bill is to ‘create a legal safety net to protect the integrity of the UK’s internal market.’ The controversial bill is now being debated in the house of Lords following the approval of UK lawmakers on the 6 September