BRUSSELS — The European Union (EU) has launched legal action against the United Kingdom (UK) in response to the latter’s “unilateral” moves to rewrite parts of the Northern Ireland Protocol in the post-Brexit deal, the European Commission said on Wednesday.
The EU executive said in a statement that it had launched infringement proceedings against the UK “for not complying with significant parts of the Protocol on Ireland/Northern Ireland” and for failing to implement the protocol despite repeated calls.
“This is a clear breach of international law,” it said.
Earlier this week, the UK government said that a bill it introduced on June 13 will allow it to “address the practical problems the protocol has created in Northern Ireland in 4 key areas: burdensome customs processes, inflexible regulation, tax and spend discrepancies, and democratic governance issues.”
However, the European Commission believes that the UK is violating international agreements.
“Trust is built by adhering to international obligations,” Commission Vice President Maros Sefcovic said. “Acting unilaterally is not constructive. Violating international agreements is not acceptable. The UK is not respecting the protocol.”
“I am still convinced that with genuine political will to make the protocol work, we can reach our objectives,” he added.
Wednesday saw the launch of two new infringement proceedings against the UK for failing to carry out its obligations under the EU’s sanitary and phytosanitary (SPS) rules and for failing to provide the EU with certain trade statistics data in respect of Northern Ireland, as required under the protocol.
The 27-nation bloc also restarted the infringement procedure launched against the UK government last year after it unilaterally extended a grace period that applies to trade on the island of Ireland. The action was put on hold in September 2021 as the two parties tried to find a joint solution.
Infringement proceedings may end up before the Court of Justice of the EU.