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Sunday, June 26, 2022

EU sues Britain for rewriting trade rules after Brexit

by Samuel Petrequin and Jill Lawless | The Associated Press

BRUSSELS — The European Union sued Britain on Wednesday over its move to rewrite trade rules agreed upon after the country left the European Union two years ago, sparking tensions between major economic partners. had increased.

Earlier this week, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s government proposed legislation that would remove customs checks on some goods entering Northern Ireland from the rest of Britain. -The trade sector – but has caused both economic and political problems in Northern Ireland, where some say they undermine the region’s place in the United Kingdom.

The European Union has condemned Britain’s attempt to break a part of the deal.

“Let’s call a spade a spade: it’s illegal,” European Commission Vice President Maros efčovič told a news conference in Brussels on Wednesday.

The EU’s decision to pursue legal action raises the possibility that either or both parties could impose punitive charges on the other. efčovic on Wednesday declined to rule out such a move. But the prospect of a trade war still seemed a distant prospect as both would suffer and he said he wanted to find a solution outside the courts.

According to the latest EU figures, the 27-nation bloc is the UK’s largest trading partner, while the UK is the EU’s third largest trading partner after the US and China.

At the heart of the controversy – and the whole reason a deal was needed in the first place – are concerns about stability in Northern Ireland, which is the only part of the UK that shares a border with an EU country, namely Ireland. Checks were put in place to keep that border open as it is a key pillar of the peace process that ended decades of violence in Northern Ireland.

But British federalists in Northern Ireland say the new checks have burdened businesses and broke ties between the region and the rest of Britain. The federalist party has blocked the formation. A new power-sharing government in Belfast says it will not participate until Brexit trade rules are in place.

efčovič, the EU Commission official, said he was ready to continue talks with Britain – but stressed a solution must be found within the original agreement, called the Northern Ireland Protocol.

The British government described the EU move as “disappointing”.

“The UK’s priority remains a negotiated solution, but the proposals set by the EU today are the same proposals we have been discussing for months,” it said.

It said it had to act because the protocol was undermining the Northern Ireland peace agreement “by disrupting trade and leading people in Northern Ireland to treat people differently from the rest of Britain”. .

While there are serious differences between the two sides, this week’s events also reflect maneuvering as each tries to strike the best deal out of the other.

The legislation proposed by the British government will take months to make its way through parliament, and officials hope they will find a new deal with the European Union in the meantime.
That seems impossible. Officials in the EU and member governments are outraged by what they see as Britain’s intent to break international law. Johnson’s government says its unilateral move is legitimate, but many lawyers and lawmakers – including some in his governing Conservative Party – disagree.

The so-called infringement process that the European Union renewed on Wednesday will take months to unfold. The action was originally launched against the UK government last year, but was put on hold as both sides try to find a solution.

The European Union says it has reopened the case out of frustration with those talks. The EU Commission said it would consider taking the UK to the European Court of Justice if the UK government does not respond within two months.

“There are only new and new demands coming from the UK government,” efčovič said.

The EU also opened two other legal actions that accuse the UK of ignoring two other parts of the post-Brexit deal.

World Nation News Desk
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