The European Commission has told the UK government that its controversial internal market bill would, if adopted, represent “an extremely serious violation of the Withdrawal Agreement and of international law”.
The EU believes parts of the United Kingdom Internal Market Bill, published yesterday (9 September), are “in clear breach” of the Northern Ireland Protocol and the Withdrawal Agreement agreed between the two sides.
Good Friday Agreement
At a meeting in London, the EU body’s vice-president Maroš Šefčovič called on the UK to withdraw these measures from the draft bill “in the shortest time possible” and in any case by the end of the month.
“The EU does not accept the argument that the aim of the draft Bill is to protect the Good Friday (Belfast) Agreement. In fact, it is of the view that it does the opposite,” the commission said in a statement following the meeting, which was attended by UK cabinet minister Michael Gove.
The commission said the Withdrawal Agreement came into force on 1 February 2020 and has legal effects under international law.
“Since that point in time, neither the EU nor the UK can unilaterally change, clarify, amend, interpret, disregard or disapply the agreement,” it added.
Mr Šefčovič said the UK has seriously damaged trust, and now had to re-establish that trust. He also warned that the EU “would not be shy” in using the mechanisms and legal remedies included in the Withdrawal Agreement which address violations of the legal obligations.