LONDON – The European Union on Thursday took legal action against the United Kingdom over London’s plan to unilaterally violate a Brexit withdrawal agreement signed last year.
In the latest setback on Britain’s attempt to separate from the European Union, the European Commission said in a statement that the country had been “formally notified” of the submission of its own law which violated international law by admitting British Ministers.
The statement said the UK’s controversial Single Market Act would “blatantly violate” the rules governing the Irish Republic-Northern Ireland border – a major stumbling block in Brexit talks over the past four years.
President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen said in a separate statement that the UK plan “is inherently in breach of the good faith commitment set out in the withdrawal agreement”.
“We stand by our commitments,” she added.
The UK has the E.U. However, thanks to a transitional agreement that expires at the end of 2020, the same rules and standards apply. This year, both sides tried to reach a free trade agreement that would allow goods to move to and from the UK.
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Prime Minister Boris Johnson was frustrated by the lack of progress on several key issues and introduced his own domestic legislation earlier this month to resolve the Irish border issue – to the indignation of European diplomats.
European Commission Vice-President Maroš Šefčovič said that the passage of the law would “constitute an extremely serious violation of the Cancellation Agreement and international law”.
The UK has a month to reply to Thursday’s letter or will take further action, possibly including legal action.