Advertisement

EU threatens Britain with legal action over bill to override Brexit deal

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen speaks during a summit with European heads of state in Brussels, Belgium, on April 23. File Photo by Olivier Hoslet/EPA-EFE
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen speaks during a summit with European heads of state in Brussels, Belgium, on April 23. File Photo by Olivier Hoslet/EPA-EFE

Oct. 1 (UPI) -- The European Union said Thursday it will take legal action against the British government for violating the terms of their Brexit agreement.

European Commissioner Ursula von der Leyen said British Prime Minister Boris Johnson is trying to override parts of the deal, which both sides agreed to last year.

Advertisement

Johnson started pushing last month for an "internal market" bill that would allow the government to modify or "disapply" Brexit rules related to shipping goods between Britain and Northern Ireland, if London and the EU fail to reach a trade agreement by the end of the transition period on Jan. 1.

Von der Leyen announced the legal move on Thursday after Britain failed to dismiss the legislation by the start of October, despite multiple warnings.

RELATED EU appeals $15B Apple-Ireland antitrust setback to highest court

"This draft bill is -- by its very nature -- a breach of the obligation of good faith laid down in the withdrawal agreement," von der Leyen said in a statement. "If adopted as is, it will be in full contradiction to the protocol on Ireland/Northern Ireland."

A representative of Johnson's government acknowledged the move, saying Britain has a right to protect its markets.

Advertisement

"We will respond ... in due course," the spokesperson said. "We have clearly set out our reasons.

RELATED Amal Clooney quits as British media envoy over plan to break EU treaty

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

If British lawmakers pass the bill, the matter could end up in the EU Court of Justice.

If both sides fail to resolve the issue before the middle of October, the prospect of a no-deal exit will again become a possibility. Britain formally left the EU in January, at which point they entered a transition period to iron out details of their future trade agreement.

The EU's move Thursday came as von der Leyen met with Ireland Prime Minister Micheal Martin to discuss foreign affairs ahead of a commission summit in Belgium.

Latest Headlines