The showdown between London and Brussels is far from over, almost two and a half years after Britain left the Union. On Monday, the UK government presented Parliament with its bill calling into question Northern Ireland’s post-Brexit status, after months of calling for the protocol to be revised. Immediate reaction this Wednesday from the European Commission, which announced infringement procedures paving the way for lawsuits in EU courts denouncing “a violation of international law”.
The Commissioner responsible for the post-Brexit agreement, Maros Sefcovic, announced at a press conference the launch of two new procedures for non-compliance with goods controls and the reopening of a third procedure that could lead to an appeal to European courts, with penalties or fines will. “The purpose of these procedures” is to force London “to comply with the Northern Ireland protocol” that was concluded as part of the Brexit agreement, the EU Commissioner said.
About the future of Northern Ireland in the UK
“Unilateral action is not constructive. Violation of international agreements is unacceptable,” said Maros Sefcovic. The protocol aims to protect Europe’s single market post-Brexit without creating a physical demarcation between the British provinces and the Republic of Ireland, a member of the European Union, that could endanger the peace.
To solve this squaring of the circle, Boris Johnson’s government had accepted that Northern Ireland should remain de facto in the European market by establishing a customs border in the Irish Sea, with controls and paperwork. This situation is complicating supplies and appalling the unionist community, who believe the provincial place in the UK is under threat.