Brussels claims London violated Northern Ireland’s controversial protocol to the Brexit deal.
The European Union has launched legal action against the UK for alleged violation of Northern Ireland’s contentious protocol to the Brexit divorce deal.
The 27-nation bloc opposes the UK unilaterally extending a grace period beyond April 1 that applies to trade on the island of Ireland, where the EU and the UK share a land border and where a special trading system has been put in place as part of the Brexit deal.
The EU sent a letter to London asking it to reverse this decision and put on notice Brussels’ plans to launch an ‘infringement procedure’, which could lead to fines imposed by the highest court in the country. ‘EU.
However, it could take at least a year, allowing time to find a solution.
Maros Sefcovic, the EU’s top official in charge of relations with the UK, sent a separate letter to his UK counterpart David Frost asking for talks to resolve the issue this month.
But the UK says it has not violated the agreement, which leaves the UK-ruled province of Northern Ireland subject to certain EU regulations, and demands checks on certain goods in from other parts of the UK.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said on Monday the extension was simply a technical decision to be fair. The protocol, he said, should secure trade between Britain and Northern Ireland, as well as across Northern Ireland’s land border with Ireland.
Later Monday, a government spokesperson said Britain had received the letter from the EU and would respond in due course.
Acrimonious relations between the UK and the EU
The dispute marks a further worsening of relations between the two sides since the end of the divorce transition period on January 1, with disputes over coronavirus vaccines and the level of EU diplomatic recognition in the UK.
This is the second time that the EU has argued with the UK over the Irish question. Last September, the UK admitted that its Home Market Bill would violate international law by violating parts of the Withdrawal Agreement treaty it signed in January 2020, when it formally left the UK. ‘EU.
The legislation would have given the Johnson government the power to cancel part of the Brexit Withdrawal Agreement regarding Northern Ireland.
However, he dropped some contentious clauses in December, two weeks before the two sides reached a trade deal.
The sensitivity of Northern Ireland’s status was underlined this year when the EU threatened to ban shipments of coronavirus vaccines to Northern Ireland as part of measures to boost supply to the bloc .
This would have drawn a hard border on the island of Ireland – exactly the scenario the Brexit deal was designed to avoid.
Northern Ireland is part of the UK but remained part of the EU’s single goods market after Brexit to avoid a hard border that could reignite sectarian violence.
This means that products from the UK are subject to EU import regulations. The grace periods cover areas such as supermarkets sourcing and package deliveries to Northern Ireland from the rest of the UK, and mean controls are not yet fully enforced.