London says its disappointment with the new procedures initiated by the EU

The European Commission announced on Friday July 22 that it launched four new infringement procedures against the United Kingdom, which could lead to a referral to European justice, for non-compliance with the provisions of the post-Brexit protocol in Northern Ireland. North.

In total, the European executive has launched seven such procedures against London in this Northern Irish protocol, a source of tension between London and Brussels. “Despite repeated calls from the European Parliament, the 27 EU member states and the European Commission to implement the protocol, the UK government has failed to do so.“, blamed the Commission in a press release.

“A legal dispute”

The Commission pointed outthe UK’s refusal to hold a serious discussion since February“, as well as”passing the (Unilateral Revision of) Northern Ireland Protocol Bill in the UK Parliament“. British MPs adopted this unilateral revision in the first reading at the end of June, which is considered illegal by the European Union. “It is disappointing that the EU has chosen to take further legal action, especially regarding matters that have left Northern Ireland for Britain, which is clearly without risk to the European single market.A British government spokesman replied.

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Legal litigation is pointless and will not solve the problems facing people and businesses in Northern Ireland“, he added. The four new infringement procedures revealed on Friday are in addition to three others announced – or relaunched for one of them – on June 15. They could lead to action before the Court of Justice the EU and the financial sanctions.

Two months to respond

The new procedures relate to non-compliance with customs obligations and control of goods from Northern Ireland to Great Britain (which, according to Brussels, increases the risk of smuggling at the border of Northern Ireland), the non compliance with European law, especially on alcohol taxes and VAT for e-commerce.

The three previous actions taken related to non-compliance with the certification requirements for the circulation of agri-food products, obligations in terms of sanitary and phytosanitary controls, and the non-communication of the EU in some statistical trade data about Northern Ireland. The UK has two months to respond to the Commission’s letters and take action to comply with the protocol.

The Northern Irish Protocol was negotiated between London and Brussels as part of the Divorce Treaty to address the sensitive border issue between Northern Ireland, which is part of the United Kingdom, and the Republic of Ireland, a member of the European Union. It was designed to achieve two goals: protecting the integrity of the European market and avoiding the return of land borders that would undermine the peace concluded in 1998 between London, Dublin and the main political forces in Northern Ireland. .

A complicated situation

To solve this squaring of the circle, Boris Johnson’s government accepted that Northern Ireland should remain de facto within the European market, establishing a customs border in the Irish Sea with the rest of the United Kingdom, with customs control and formality. This situation complicated supplies and alarmed the Unionist community in Northern Ireland where the province’s place within the United Kingdom was threatened.

However, the protocol was never fully implemented while grace periods of controls were introduced and extended for products such as non-frozen meat or medicines. Under the terms of the post-Brexit agreement, Brussels may decide in retaliation to suspend the application of certain provisions, at the risk of creating a heated trade dispute with London.


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