Brexit: Economist warns of ‘two immediate challenges’
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EU Commission Vice President Maros Sefcovic is expected to publish the bloc’s response to Boris Johnson, in a bid to stop the bill from becoming law in the UK. Brussels responded to the publication on Monday with an announcement that it intends to re-open legal action against the UK which has been on hold since September.
Mr Sefcovic hinted at further measures, saying the unliteral action by the UK had undermined the trust needed for the effective operation of its post-Brexit trade deal with Brussels.
The bloc is likely to re-open infringement proceedings it paused last year in the hope negotiations would lead to a solution.
EU infringement proceedings are designed to encourage member states to follow EU rules, but with Britain now out of the bloc this route is unlikely to be successful.
However, as the proceedings are likely to last for months in negotiations and deliberations, some in Brussels hope the delay will bring the dispute forward to 2023 and eventually be dealt with by a new leader in the UK.
At the end of the infringement process, the EU could send the case to the European Court of Justice (ECJ).
The Luxembourg-based court will then have up to 18 months to decide on a ruling.
Foreign Secretary Liz Truss said on Tuesday there was “absolutely no reason” for the European Union to retaliate against the UK after the plans to tear up the protocol caused outrage across the bloc.
Ireland’s Foreign Affairs Minister Simon Coveney warned the UK Government’s move could “destabilise” the situation in Northern Ireland and was undermining the work that led to the Brexit agreement with the EU.
But Ms Truss told Times Radio: “Our solution doesn’t make the EU any worse off.
“We continue to protect the single market, we’re supplying the EU with data, we’ve got strong enforcement to make sure companies aren’t violating the rules.
“So there is absolutely no reason why the EU should react in a negative way to what we’re doing.”
The UK has argued that the measures to remove checks on goods and animal and plant products travelling from Great Britain to Northern Ireland are necessary to safeguard the Good Friday Agreement and peace and stability.
The imposition of checks between Great Britain and Northern Ireland in order to keep an open border with Ireland has angered unionists.
Germany’s ambassador to the UK Miguel Berger said the British Government’s decision to break the agreement was one “we deeply regret”.
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Sinn Fein Stormont leader Michelle O’Neill criticised the move as “disgraceful and utterly reckless”.
Michael Martin said the legislation to override parts of the Northern Ireland Protocol was “anti-business and anti-industry”.
Speaking in Dublin on Tuesday, Mr Martin said: “I don’t think it’s well thought out or well thought through and certainly doesn’t match the realities on the ground in terms of experiences of those involved in various industries.”
The Government has insisted the Bill is compatible with international law under the “doctrine of necessity” which allows obligations in treaties to be set aside under “certain, very exceptional, limited conditions”.
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