Brussels Takes Legal Action In The Face Of Boris Johnson’s New Plans To Rewrite The Brexit That He Himself Signed

Brussels takes legal action against the bill with which Boris Johnson intends to rewrite Brexit. The European Commission considers that the new legislation announced by Boris Johnson violates international law by violating the treaty signed by himself with the European Union in relation to the Northern Ireland Protocol. Thus, the Community Executive announced this Wednesday its response “to the British intention, again, to violate international law”, while “the project allows ministers not to apply the protocol. Everything negotiated in response to Brexit that London wanted can be circumvented. We believe that it violates international law and is not acceptable to the EU.”

The European Commissioner for Brexit, Maros Sefcovic, stated this Wednesday: “There is no justification for unilaterally changing an international agreement. It is a breach of international law. It is illegal. The UK is damaging confidence in the EU.”


The legal reaction announced by Brussels consists of “unfreezing” the procedure initiated in March 2021 against the United Kingdom for not applying the protocol regarding border controls to what arrives in Northern Ireland from Great Britain and unilaterally postponing the moratoriums on customs controls in the Irish Sea. Brussels will send a notification and, if London does not respond, it will go to the Court of Justice of the EU. In addition, Brussels takes legal action for not complying with significant parts of the protocol, such as controls on sanitary and phytosanitary products.

“First, we are going to proceed to reactivate the March 2021 procedure, if you do not respond in two months, we will take them to the CJEU. In addition, we are going to launch two new files, on customs controls and for not providing commercial traceability data to protect the EU’s single market”, said Sefcovic.

Of course, the infringement procedure against the new legislation cannot be launched until that new legislation comes into force, explains Brussels.

If the judicial process does not work or the United Kingdom continues with its project of unilaterally skipping the Brexit agreement, the consequence would be that the future relationship trade agreement agreed after the withdrawal agreement would decline. In other words, the United Kingdom and the European Union would enter into a commercial war and a blockade of commercial transactions when the existing treaty that emanates from the Brexit agreement would become invalid.

“It is not carrying out the necessary controls at the borders, which has effects on the application of the law”, says the European Commission: “When we decided not to continue with these legal actions [a finales de julio de 2021]It was because the United Kingdom asked us to create a space for dialogue and take pressure off the negotiations. But there has been no progress since February in the discussions. From our point of view, the United Kingdom has broken the conditions that kept this procedure stopped. We haven’t had any discussions since the end of February.”

Brussels has also updated its proposals to relax customs controls by making the application of the Northern Ireland protocol more flexible.

Johnson’s plan

That the English products that remain in Northern Ireland do not have controls – even if there is no border with Ireland afterwards. And leave the EU Court of Justice without jurisdiction over the disputes between Brussels and the United Kingdom regarding the governance of the Brexit agreement. This is how Boris Johnson intends to unilaterally rewrite an agreement that he himself signed a year and a half ago, and that challenges two fundamental issues for the 27: controls on British products exist in Northern Ireland because then there is no border with the EU in so much so that it does not exist between the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland, and control of everything that enters the single market is essential.

And that single market of the EU, as it is of the EU, has community rules that must be monitored by the CJEU, like all EU rules.

While the British Government presents its proposal to undo the Northern Ireland Protocol agreed in the Brexit divorce agreement negotiated by Boris Johnson, Brussels is taking legal action against the United Kingdom.

Indeed, in the bill to “fix the Northern Ireland protocol” presented this Monday, the British Government maintains that it is the way to guarantee “the protection of the delicate balance of the Good Friday Agreement in all its dimensions” with ” strong guarantees for the EU single market”, “lasting solutions for the four key problems of the Protocol” and eliminating “unnecessary costs and paperwork for companies”.

“The Northern Ireland Protocol Bill will allow the Government to address the practical problems that the Protocol has created in Northern Ireland in four key areas: cumbersome customs processes, inflexible regulation, tax and spending discrepancies and democratic governance issues” says Downing Street: “These issues include trade disruption and diversion and significant costs and bureaucracy for business. It is undermining the Belfast Agreement and leading to the collapse of power-sharing agreements in Stormont [Parlamento norirlandés]. The UK Government is committed to getting these institutions back up and running so they can deliver for the people of Northern Ireland.”

“After 18 months of talks with the EU, the UK still prefers a negotiated solution, but the EU must be willing to change the Protocol,” says the British Government.

Thus, the legislation establishes “green and red channels to eliminate unnecessary costs and procedures for companies that trade within the United Kingdom, while guaranteeing that complete controls are carried out for goods entering the EU. Businesses will have the option of placing products on the Northern Ireland market in accordance with UK or EU trading rules, to ensure that Northern Irish consumers are not prevented from buying standard UK products, even as UK and EU regulations diverge over time.” In other words, if a product is theoretically not designed to cross into Ireland –and, therefore, the EU–, it would not have additional controls that only those products designed to enter Ireland would have –something that is not always controllable–.

The bill also ensures that “Northern Ireland can benefit from the same tax breaks and spending policies as the rest of the UK, including VAT rebates on energy-saving materials and COVID recovery credits.”

In addition, London speaks of “normalizing governance arrangements so that disputes are resolved through independent arbitration and not by the European Court of Justice.”

According to Downing Street, “These changes are designed to protect the Belfast (Good Friday) Agreement and support stability and power sharing in Northern Ireland. They will provide strong safeguards for the EU single market, supported by a Trusted Trader scheme and real-time data sharing to give the EU confidence that goods destined for Northern Ireland are not entering its market. The legislation also ensures that goods moving between Britain and the EU are subject to EU customs controls.

“The UK”, says the British Government, “in the recent intense discussions between October and March, has held more than 300 hours of official and ministerial negotiations and spent hundreds more examining EU non-papers in detail. However, it has become clear that the EU proposals do not address the core problems created by the Protocol.”

Foreign Secretary Liz Truss said: “This bill will uphold the Belfast (Good Friday) Agreement and support political stability in Northern Ireland. It will end the untenable situation where people in Northern Ireland are treated differently from the rest of the UK, protect the supremacy of our courts and our territorial integrity. It is a practical and reasonable solution to the problems facing Northern Ireland. It will safeguard the EU single market and ensure there is no hard border on the island of Ireland. We are prepared to implement this through talks with the EU. But we can only move through the negotiations if the EU is willing to change the Protocol itself, and at the moment they are not. Meanwhile, the dire situation in Northern Ireland shows that we cannot allow the situation to go off the rails.”



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