The European Commission has launched infringement proceedings against the United Kingdom for not complying with significant parts of the Protocol on Ireland / Northern Ireland.
Despite repeated calls on the UK government to implement the Protocol, it has failed to do so.
This is a clear breach of international law, says the EU.
The aim of these infringement proceedings is to restore compliance with the Protocol in a number of key areas where the UK hasn’t been implementing it properly – ultimately with the goal of protecting the health and safety of EU citizens.
At the same time, the Commission is today providing additional details on the possible solutions it put forward in October 2021 to facilitate the movement of goods between Great Britain and Northern Ireland.
The position papers published today explain how the movement of goods between Great Britain and Northern Ireland can be significantly facilitated. The Commission calls on the UK government to engage seriously and constructively with these suggested solutions. As usual, the Commission will proceed in close collaboration and constant dialogue with the European Parliament and Council.
European Commission Vice-President, Maroš Šefčovič, said: “Trust is built by adhering to international obligations. Acting unilaterally is not constructive. Violating international agreements is not acceptable. The UK is not respecting the Protocol. That is why we are launching these infringement proceedings today. The EU and the UK must work together to address the practical problems that the Protocol creates in Northern Ireland due to Brexit. I am still convinced that with genuine political will to make the Protocol work, we can reach our objectives. I call on my UK counterparts to engage in good faith and explore the full potential of the solutions we have put forward. Only joint solutions will create the legal certainty that people and businesses in Northern Ireland deserve.”
The Commission’s action comes swift on the heels of a statement by the European Parliament’s UK contact group, which read, “We are deeply concerned with the UK’s unilateral action, which constitutes a serious and unacceptable breach of international law.”
It went on, “The Northern Ireland Protocol Bill puts into question the credibility of the UK Government to comply with its international obligations under the Withdrawal Agreement and the Trade and Cooperation Agreement, damages mutual trust and creates uncertainty for people, investors and business in Northern Ireland.”
The MEPs added, “We call upon the UK government and UK Parliament not to adopt the proposed bill and to return to the discussion table to find practical, flexible and durable solutions within the legal framework of the Protocol.”
The Parliament says the EU-UK relationship must be based on full respect of our mutually agreed, legally binding commitments. We recall that the conclusion of the Withdrawal Agreement was a pre-condition for the negotiation of the Trade and Cooperation Agreement. The European Parliament’s UK Contact Group stresses that:in order to have a positive and stable relationship, the EU and the UK must comply with the provisions of the two Agreements the parties have negotiated, signed and ratified: the Withdrawal Agreement and the Trade and Cooperation Agreement.”