EU launches new infringement procedures against London
The European Commission announced on Friday that it had 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 on Northern Ireland. . In total, the European executive has launched seven such procedures against London over 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 British government has failed to do so,” the Commission said in a statement. The Commission pinpoints « the UK’s refusal to engage in a serious discussion since last February », as well as « the passage of the bill on (the unilateral revision of) the Northern Ireland protocol in the British Parliament ». British MPs adopted this unilateral revision at first reading at the end of June, deemed illegal by the European Union.
“It is disappointing that the EU has chosen to take further legal action, particularly regarding goods leaving Northern Ireland for Britain, which clearly pose no risk to the European single market “Reacted a spokesperson for the British government. “Legal litigation is in no one’s interest and will not solve the problems facing people and businesses in Northern Ireland. »
The four new infringement procedures unveiled on Friday are in addition to three others announced – or relaunched for one of them – on June 15. They can lead to action before the Court of Justice of the EU and to financial penalties.
Two months to respond
The new procedures relate to non-compliance with customs obligations and the control of goods going from Northern Ireland to Great Britain (which, according to Brussels, increases the risk of smuggling through the Northern Irish border), the non – compliance with European legislation, in particular on alcohol taxes and VAT for e-commerce. The three previous actions taken concerned non-compliance with certification requirements for the movement of agri-food products, obligations in terms of sanitary and phytosanitary controls, and the non-communication to the EU of certain statistical data on trade regarding 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 delicate issue of the border between Northern Ireland, which is part of the United Kingdom, and the Republic of Ireland, member of the European Union.