(16 March 2021) – The EU launched legal proceedings against Britain on Monday (15 March), alleging that London had broken a protocol of its Brexit divorce agreement covering Ireland.
The battle marks a bitter new setback to post-Brexit cross-Channel relations just two months after the EU and Britain secured a hard-won trade deal and 15 months after the UK’s tumultuous split from the bloc.
EU officials are angry at an announcement by London of a unilateral six-month delay — until 1 October — of custom controls on goods arriving in Northern Ireland from mainland Britain.
The EU said this violates the protocol of the 2019 divorce pact that deals with Ireland, one of the most sensitive and fought over issues of Britain’s break from bloc membership after 47 years.
In a letter sent by the EU to the UK, Brussels began an “infringement procedure” that may end up, after a lengthy process, before the European Court of Justice (ECJ), which may impose fines.
The UK has 30 days to respond to the letter or otherwise see the legal proceedings go one step further: a second letter could activate a separate dispute settlement mechanism, on the grounds that the UK has not respected international law by delaying the border controls. (EurActiv)