Armin Cuyvers on European infringement proceedings against the UK
This week the European Commission took a major step by starting infringement proceedings against the United Kingdom. The issue at stake is the contentious Internal Market Bill introduced by Boris Johnson’s government which is contrary to the Brexit Agreement.
This Internal Market Bill would enable the four countries of the United Kingdom (Scotland, England, Wales, and Northern Ireland) to continue to trade with each other. In the negotiations for an official Withdrawal Agreement, however, the United Kingdom agreed to some kind of border between Scotland and Northern Ireland, so that a border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland would not be necessary. The intention would be to prevent new conflicts on the island.
Since the border lies in the sea, it means that goods meant for Northern Ireland would have to meet EU regulations. The Internal Market Bill would give British ministers the authority to temporarily ignore EU regulations in Northern Ireland, if this proved to be necessary. And that hits a nerve with the EU.
If the British government continues with this legislation, the EU can proceed to take legal action at the European Court of Justice. ‘If the United Kingdom loses the case, it could lead to a fine or penalty being imposed’, says Armin Cuyvers, Associate Professor European Law at Leiden University, on RTL news website.