EU slackens legal action against Britain as it plans to break Brexit deal

LONDON / BRUSSELS (Reuters) – Britain and the European Union will hold emergency talks on Thursday on Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s plan to undertake parts of the Brexit divorce treaty, with Brussels exploring possible legal action against London.

Michel Barnier, the EU’s chief negotiator, left a hotel in London, UK on 10 September 2020. REUTERS / Simon Daison

As Britain advances its plan to operate outside international law by violating the divorce treaty, EU negotiators are trying to figure out how to treat London.

European Commission vice-president Maros Sefcovic will meet British counterpart Michael Gov in London at 1200 GMT and chief negotiators Michel Barnier and David Frost will hold trade talks.

If London is unhappy with what it says, the EU can use a part of the withdrawal agreement to take legal action against the UK, although there will be no resolution before the final deadline for Britain to be fully exonerated.

“There is a dispute settlement mechanism under the withdrawal agreement,” an EU diplomat dealing with Brexit told Reuters.

Two other EU officials said the commission would analyze parts of the UK’s proposed Internal Markets Bill – withdrawal agreement – once taking into account the amendments before making a final decision on the legal matter.

A note distributed by the EU executive to 27 EU member states stated that the bloc could initiate so-called breach procedures against Britain.

The British government says that its planned legislation, put forward on Wednesday, only clarifies the ambiguity in the evacuation agreement, but also says its main priority is the 1998 Northern Irish Peace Accord that ended decades of violence . It said that the bill would be debated on Monday.

The leaders of Europe have been assigned an ultimatum: accept a breach of treaty or be prepared for a messed up divorce when Britain separates itself from the EU at the end of the year.

The UK signed the treaty and formally left the European Union in January, but all are members by the end of 2020 under a status quo agreement, but named.

Sterling was flat at $ 1.2999, although overnight sterling implied volatility rose to 13%, its highest since March 26 and the FTSE 100 stock index slipped.


Negotiations on a trade deal have been snatched away by state aid regulations and fishing. Without an agreement, about $ 1 trillion in trade between the EU and the UK could be put into confusion as early as 2021 as they also deal with the economic impact of the coronavirus epidemic.

The latest dispute centers on rules for Northern Ireland, which share a land border with EU member Ireland. Under the 1998 agreement, there should be no stricter border in Ireland.

To ensure that, Britain’s EU divorce agreements call for certain EU rules to be implemented in Northern Ireland. But Britain wants the power to override many of them, acknowledging that it would be a violation of international law.

Speaker of the US House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi said that if the UK canceled the 1998 agreement, there would be no US Congress deal in any US-UK trade agreement.

Former British leaders Theresa May and John Major scolded Johnson for considering a clear, deliberate violation of international law.

The Major said, “If we lose our reputation for honoring our promises, we have to lose something that can never be taken back.”

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European diplomats said Britain was playing a game of Brexit “chicken”, threatening to end the process and challenge Brussels. Some fear Johnson may not find a deal with the epidemic as a useful distraction.

“I’m not optimistic at this stage,” Irish Prime Minister Michele Martin told national broadcaster RTE when asked how confident they were in a trade deal. He said confidence in the negotiations had waned, making it difficult to secure a free trade agreement without tariffs and quotas.

Writing by Guy Foulcobridge; Additional reporting by William James and Elizabeth Piper in London, Padrick Halpin in Dublin and John Chalors in Brussels; Editing by Kim Coghill, Peter Graef and Timothy Heritage

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