EU warns it will take government to court over Brexit bill

EU Commission vice-president Maros Sefcovic (right) and EU Ambassador to the UK Joao Vale de Almeida

EU Commission vice-president Maros Sefcovic (right) and EU Ambassador to the UK, Portuguese diplomat Joao Vale de Almeida - Credit: PA

European Commission vice president Maros Sefcovic has reiterated calls for the UK to withdraw provisions in the Internal Market Bill overriding the Brexit Withdrawal Agreement by the end of the month.

Following a meeting of the Joint Committee on the implementation of the agreement in Brussels, Sefcovic said the UK’s position was still “far apart” from what the EU could accept.

“We maintain that the Bill if adopted in its current form would constitute an extremely serious violation of the (Northern Ireland) protocol as an essential part of the Withdrawal Agreement and of international law,” he said.

“The Withdrawal Agreement is to be implemented, not to be renegotiated, let alone unilaterally changed, disregarded or disapplied.”

Hinting at the matter ending up in courts, Sefcovic said: “Once again, I reminded the UK government today that the Withdrawal Agreement contains a number of mechanisms and legal remedies to address the violation of the legal obligations contained in the text.

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“And I underscored that the EU will not be shy in using it.

“When we will do it, how we will do it – proceed, you will have to give us a little bit of time and we will inform you in due course.”

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Downing Street rejected the European Union’s demands.

The prime minister's official spokesman said: “The Bill has been supported by the House of Commons and will continue its passage through the House of Lords.”

There was “no change in our position”, with the legislation providing a “vital safety net should agreement not be reached at the joint committee”.

“We continue to work through the joint committee to resolve the outstanding issues and ambiguity,” the spokesman said.

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