BRUSSELS: The European Commission launched four new legal proceedings against Britain on Friday (July 22) after the UK’s lower house of parliament approved a bill to scrap some of the rules governing post-Brexit trade deals for Ireland. from North.
The Commission, which oversees EU-UK relations, said Britain’s unwillingness to engage in meaningful discussions on the protocol governing those trade deals and the passage of the Northern Ireland Protocol Bill by the House of Commons undermined the spirit of cooperation.
It brings to seven the number of “infringement proceedings” the European Commission has launched for what it considers Britain failed to respect the Northern Ireland trade aspects of the Brexit divorce deal agreed by both sides.
The proceedings could lead to the European Court of Justice (ECJ) imposing fines, although this is not likely to happen for at least a year. The Commission said it was ready to launch more procedures to protect the EU’s single market from British violations of the protocol.
Britain did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
London has proposed removing some controls on goods from the rest of the UK arriving in the British province and questioned the ECJ’s role in deciding parts of the post-Brexit deal agreed by the EU and Britain.
The four new legal proceedings do not relate to Britain’s new plans, but to the charge that Britain has failed to implement the protocol.
Northern Ireland is in the EU’s single market for goods, which means imports from the rest of the UK are subject to customs declarations and sometimes require checks on arrival.
The deal was put in place to avoid reinstating border controls between Northern Ireland and EU member Ireland, but has inflamed pro-British unionist parties by effectively creating a border in the Irish Sea.
The Commission accused Britain of failing to comply with customs requirements for goods moving from Northern Ireland to Britain, failing to transpose EU rules on excise duty in general and for alcohol, and failing to implement EU rules. EU on sales tax for electronic commerce.
The Commission has given Britain two months to respond.