Maros Sefcovic, European Commission vice president has warned the UK that the EU would not be shy in acting to make sure that Britain sticks to its international commitments as a sovereign nation.
This follows a signal that shows the UK government’s intention to unilaterally consider extending a grace period so Northern Irish shops can be allowed to continue selling chilled meats, sausages and mince that comes from Britain after the Brexit Northern Ireland protocol expires at the end of this month.
The bloc, therefore expects Prime Minister Boris Johnson to avoid making the move otherwise face a retaliatory punishment which could include taking legal action against the UK and slamming harsh tariffs on its exports.
It’s expected that the EU will give the UK a two-month ultimatum under the Brexit Withdrawal Agreement to withdraw the border check postponement, and if it fails to withdraw, the case will appear before the European Court of Justice.
If the ECJ rules in favour of the EU and the UK still refuses to comply with the ruling, the Commission will have no choice but to hit the UK exports with hefty tariffs… the fear is that such tariffs could apply to all areas of the economic part of the post-Brexit trade deal, according to a Commission factsheet.
There’re also concerns that the EU may attack the UK’s financial and tech industry, according to Anton Spisak from the Tony Blair Institute for Global Change who told Politico that Brussels could do that since it can control the outcome.
It’s also expected that Brussels could consider withdrawing its cooperation in the areas of security and law enforcement. Britain’s ambition to join the Lugano Convention – which defines which national courts have jurisdiction in cross-border cases could be scuppered by the EU as well.
It would also not be shocking if Brussels decide to prevent the UK from participating in research and innovation programmes, such as Horizon Europe, even though it recently decided that Britain could participate in sensitive technology projects.
The UK had previously unilaterally extended the grace periods in the protocol on supermarket goods and parcels, and the Commission vice president has said this time that the bloc would not tolerate further failures of compliance by London.
“Unfortunately, we see numerous and fundamental gaps in the UK’s implementation – even though the protocol entered into force over 17 months ago.
“Mutually agreed with compliance paths, with concrete deadlines and milestones for the UK to fulfil its existing obligations, would therefore be an important stepping stone – and, I believe, a credible outcome of this joint committee.
“If this does not happen, and if the UK takes further unilateral action over the coming weeks, the EU will not be shy in reacting swiftly, firmly and resolutely to ensure that the UK abides by its international law obligations,” Mr Sefcovic said.