Brussels is dragging Britain to court over an alleged breach of the Withdrawal Agreement signed up by the UK Prime Miniter Boris Johnson. European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen will forward a “letter of formal notice” to Mr Johnson in a bid to make him drop his plans to rip up sections of last year’s divorce deal relating to Northern Ireland.
Eurocrats will claim the UK has breached quite a number of good faith clauses in the Withdrawal Agreement. If the Prime Minister refuses to back-off from his Internal Markets Bill, the EU will threaten even further legal actions against the UK.
The legal move will include hauling Mr Johnson before judges at the European Court of Justice in Luxembourg.
“We had invited our British friends to the problematic parts of their draft Internal Market Bill by the end of September. This draft Bill is by its very nature a breach of the obligation of good faith laid down in the Withdrawal Agreement.
“Moreover if it is adopted as it is it will be in full contradiction to the protocol on Ireland/Northern Ireland. The deadline lapsed yesterday. The problematic provisions have not been removed. Therefore this morning the Commission has decided to send a letter of formal notice to the UK Government.
“This is the first step in an infringement procedure,” Mrs von der Leyen said.
Mrs von der Leyen said she has allowed the UK Government 30 days to reply to her threatening legal move. But it appears Mr Johnson is most confident of facing down the Commission’s challenge.
A spokesman for the UK government said, “We will respond to the letter in due course. We have clearly set out our reasons for introducing the measures related to the Northern Ireland Protocol.
“We need to create a legal safety net to protect the integrity of the UK’s internal market, ensure Ministers can always deliver on their obligations to Northern Ireland and protect the gains from the peace process.”
Legal advice that was previously circulated to European capitals claimed the EU could slam the UK with huge fines or trade sanctions if it’s found in breach of the divorce pact.
France and other big EU countries have been pushing hard for the Commission to make an example of the UK after the legislation was published with French Europe minister Clement Beaune saying, “We are constantly being tested on a lot of things, so you have to be consistent.
“The question is if the EU is firm and united. The answer is yes. A withdrawal agreement was signed, voted by Parliament, impossible to question. If so, we could not validate the agreement on our future relationship with the United Kingdom. It is clear.”
Mrs von der Leyen is expected to meet with Irish premier Micheal Martin after the announcement while Dublin believes that the most contentious parts of No 10’s Brexit Bill will surely fade away once a trade deal is concluded.