In the dispute over Brexit rules for the British province of Northern Ireland, the EU is taking action against London. With that, the European Commission reacted on Wednesday to a law introduced earlier this week with which the British government could undermine a joint agreement – the so-called Northern Ireland Protocol. Specifically, three legal proceedings are involved: two of these infringement proceedings will be initiated, another will be resumed.
This could result in lawsuits before the European Court of Justice and a fine for London. “Let’s call things by their own name: it’s illegal,” said Commission Vice-Chair Maros Sefcovic, responsible for relations with the former British MP, in view of British plans to unilaterally overturn the Northern Ireland Protocol. address the matter before the European Court of Justice within two months, he stressed. Despite repeated requests, the British government has not implemented the protocol, the European Commission said. “This is a clear violation of international law,” Sefcovic said.
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A spokesman for British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said he was “disappointed”. The approach chosen by Brussels increases the burden on Northern Ireland citizens and is counterproductive. Irish Foreign Minister Simon Coveney welcomed the EU Commission’s actions. It was the result of a conscious strategy by the British government, which relied on provocation rather than partnership, he wrote on Twitter. The European Parliament’s Brexit rapporteur, Andreas Schieder, welcomed the European Commission’s announcement. London “clearly violated international law – such an act must also have legal consequences,” said the leader of the SPÖ-EU delegation.
question of countermeasures
However, the EU Commission could have taken much tougher countermeasures in response. For example, the authority could have initiated a process at the end of which parts of the Brexit trade deal could be terminated – with likely noticeable effects on many British companies. Tighter merchandise controls in the English Channel are also considered conceivable to increase pressure.
Post-Brexit disputes have erupted over how and where goods entering Northern Ireland from the UK should be inspected. Both sides want to avoid a border on the island of Ireland amid fears it could result in violence and reignite conflict in Northern Ireland.
Part of the Brexit deal
The Northern Ireland Protocol forms part of the 2019 Brexit deal. It stipulates that the province, which is part of the United Kingdom, will continue to follow EU and European Customs Union internal market rules. This is intended to avoid product controls for the EU member Republic of Ireland in order to prevent the conflict between opponents and supporters of a two-part unification of Ireland from reigniting again. But now an intra-British goods border has been created. (apa, dpa)