EU takes legal action against UK government for failure to appoint new commissioner

PUBLISHED: 19:42 14 November 2019 | UPDATED: 19:42 14 November 2019

Ursula von der Leye. Photograph: Jonathan Brady/PA.

Ursula von der Leye. Photograph: Jonathan Brady/PA.

PA Archive/PA Images

The EU has launched legal action against the UK government for failing to nominate a candidate for the job of European commissioner.

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The European commission said that it considered that the UK was "in breach of its EU treaty obligations", and has given until 22nd November to respond.

Boris Johnson has repeatedly said he would not appoint a new commissioner - even though all member states are legally obliged to do so.

Incoming commission president Ursula von der Leyen has said she wants to form a new College of Commissioners on December 1.

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But in a letter to the commission, the government said official pre-election guidance meant it could not make international appointments ahead of polling day on December 12.

In its response, the commission said that under EU case-law, a member state "may not invoke provisions prevailing in its domestic legal system to justify failure to observe obligations arising under union law".

The launch of infringement proceedings could be the first step on referring the case to the European Court of Justice.

However, Johnson is likely to be hoping that by the time it reaches that stage, Britain will be out of the EU - which is currently timed to take place by January 31st.

But a failure to comply could sour forthcoming negotiations with Brussels if it ignores the request.

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