Thursday, 7 July 2022 – 09:13

EU commences legal proceedings against UK – but trade talks continue

The European Union has begun legal proceedings against the UK due to the UK Government refusing to remove sections from its controversial Internal Market Bill. 

The EU had asked the UK to remove sections from the bill, which could allow the UK to override sections of the EU Withdrawal Agreement signed off between the UK and EU ahead of the UK’s departure from the EU in January this year. The EU had given the government a deadline of Wednesday to remove sections of the bill – something which the UK Government has not done.

The President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen said on Thursday;

“This draft bill is, by its very nature, a breach of the obligation of good faith laid down in the Withdrawal Agreement.

Moreover, if adopted as is, it will be in full contradiction to the protocol of Ireland, Northern Ireland”

The European Commission has decided to send a “letter of formal notice” to the UK Government, with the UK having until the end of November to respond to the union’s concerns over the draft bill.

 

How serious are the legal proceedings and what might happen next?

The ‘letter of formal notice’ is the first step in the legal proceedings. Exactly what may happen during the proceedings is uncertain and it is unknown when or how long a process in the courts may take to be completed if the proceedings escalate.

 

What about UK-EU trade negotiations?

The legal proceedings could potentially sour the mood in negotiations, but for now, the negotiations for a post-Brexit trade deal are still continuing this week.

Both sides have said they are keen to do a deal in the near future – Boris Johnson has set a deadline of mid-October for a deal to be reached. If a deal is reached, it would then have to go through the processes in the UK and EU before it could be signed off. If a deal cannot be reached, there would be a ‘no-deal’ scenario in which the UK would initially have to trade on terms set by the World Trade Organization. 

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