European Commissioner Maros Sefcovic announced it at the end of the morning, at a press conference, in reaction to the bill officially made public earlier this week by London. Via this text tabled in the House of Commons, the government of Boris Johnson aims to set aside part of the agreement that had been concluded with the EU on the subject of Northern Ireland, a territory which maintains a special status after Brexit.
London has thus confirmed its intention to “unilaterally violate international law”, Maros Sefcovic said on Wednesday. “There is neither legal justification nor political justification” for such a unilateral attack on an international agreement, he criticized. “Let’s call a spade a spade. It’s illegal.”
The Slovak was thus responding remotely to the assertions of British Secretary of State Liz Truss, who argued earlier this week that London was acting completely legally.
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The European Commission will relaunch an infringement procedure which had been interrupted to leave the field open to negotiations on the protocol on Northern Ireland, indicated the commissioner. In this procedure launched in March 2021, if London does not respond satisfactorily within two months, “we could bring the file to the Court of Justice”.
At the same time, Brussels decided on Wednesday to launch two new infringement procedures, “one for not carrying out the necessary checks at Northern Ireland checkpoints, with the appropriate staff and infrastructure”, and the another “for failing to provide the EU with essential trade statistics to help protect the single market”.
The British government said on Wednesday it was “disappointed” by the European Union’s launch of infringement procedures. “We are disappointed that the EU has taken this legal action,” Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s spokesman told reporters, defending London’s decision by the failure of negotiations due to proposals from Brussels which represented ” backtracking”