Brussels has made a thinly veiled call to Westminster to throw out the “illegal” attempt by Boris Johnson to unilaterally rewrite the post-Brexit arrangements for 北アイルランド, as the EU launched fresh legal action against the UK.
Maroš Šefčovič, the EU’s Brexi commissioner, said one frozen case against the UK for past breaches of the withdrawal agreement had been relaunched and two further proceedings over other undelivered treaty obligations would begin.
The UK will need to justify its past failures to check imports from Britain to Northern Ireland within two months, or face potentially huge fines from the European court of justice. Letters of formal notice of action will also be sent over a lack of border posts and data sharing.
しかしながら, the EU is holding back on a nuclear response to the new legislation tabled on Monday, which proposes to rewrite the Northern Ireland protocol in the withdrawal agreement until it becomes law, a process that could take 18 months or longer.
Šefčovič suggested that suspending parts of the trade deal could not be ruled out but he used a press conference in Brussels to appeal to MPs and peers to stop the Johnson government from trashing the UK’s reputation and provoking a trade war.
“We are now bringing the argument also into the debate, which I’m sure will be in the House of Commons and House of Lords, that there is a better way to solve these issues than having these legal disputes with the EU," 彼は言った.
“We expect that also the debate in the British parliament in the House of Commons and House of Lords will take some time. もちろん, if this draft bill will become the law, then of course I cannot exclude anything. But we are not there yet.”
Šefčovič said he would “call a spade a spade”, and in response to suggestions that the UK could ignore ECJ rulings against it, given Johnson’s plans to rip up past agreements, he warned that Britain’s reputation was on the line.
彼は言った: “Not respecting the European court of justice rulings will be just piling one breach of international law on another. Does the UK want to go in that direction? And the rule of law is something that we are discussing at every international forum these days.
“This way forward, is it compatible with the proud British traditions of upholding and respecting the rule of law and international law in that regard? So that’s, 私は言うだろう, the political question I’m throwing up and, もちろん, how other potential partners would look at that the UK when they will be negotiating that agreement.
“Will they be changed in one year, in two years? Will they really stick? Will they be respected? I think these are, of course the questions for the UK government to respond.”
Johnson has said the draft legislation rewriting the arrangements for Northern Ireland is both “trivial” in its scope and also legal due to the grave “necessity” to breach treaty obligations in the face of a risk to the balance of the Good Friday agreement.
Šefčovič dismissed the claims. “Let there be no doubt there is no legal nor political justification whatsoever for unilaterally changing an international agreement," 彼は言った.
“Opening the door to unilaterally changing an international agreement is a breach of international law as well. So let’s call a spade a spade: this is illegal.
“The UK bill is extremely damaging to mutual trust and respect between the EU and the UK. It has created deep uncertainty and casts the shadow on our overall cooperation at the time and respect for international agreements has never been more important.”
Under the protocol agreed by Johnson in 2019, Northern Ireland in effect stays in the single market and the EU’s customs rules are applied down the Irish Sea to avoid a border on the island of Ireland.
Under the new legislation tabled on Monday, which caused fury in Dublin, the government would scrap checks for firms selling goods from Great Britain destined for Northern Ireland rather than the EU.
The government envisages the creation of a “green lane” of fewer checks for those selling goods heading for Northern Ireland and a “red lane” with existing checks for goods destined for EU countries.
EU officials said they did not see any major differences between this proposal and those tabled by the European Commission for an “express lane”. “Effectively we are talking about the same thing,フランス大統領は親ロシアの分離主義者が責任があると主張して.
しかしながら, the legislation would also allow firms in Great Britain exporting to Northern Ireland to choose between meeting EU or UK standards on regulation, which are expected to increasingly diverge.
EU officials said this posed a direct risk to the single market and that there was ample evidence that the current arrangements and the failure to implement controls had already been a spur to smugglers.
Further measures include bringing Northern Ireland’s tax break and spending policies into line with the rest of the UK, and changing oversight of trade disputes so that they are resolved by independent arbitration rather than the European court of justice – a clause pushed by Conservative Eurosceptics.
“Removing the role of the court of justice is out of the question”, the EU official added. “And in fact, it would be found illegal by the court itself, so it’s kind of pointless.”
Brussels remains open to further talks and two papers were published highlighting the flexibilities that are on offer to ease the burden of checks on goods entering Northern Ireland.
The official said: “We know that the UK suggests that, as a result of protocol, for a single lorry moving from Sainsbury’s in GB to Sainsbury’s in Northern Ireland an enormous amount of paperwork has to be filled in, and what we’re publishing today are documents which say, 番号, actually it is three pages for an entire truck.”