In Brief

EU launches legal action against UK over Internal Market Bill

European Commission gives Boris Johnson until end of October to respond

The EU Commission has confirmed that it will launch legal action against the UK’s attempt to override parts of the Brexit withdrawal agreement.

European Commission head Ursula von der Leyen announced today that the UK had been put on formal notice over the bill, giving Boris Johnson until the end of September to scrap clauses that contradict parts of the original agreement.

“The deadline has lapsed,” von der Leyen told reporters on Thursday. “We had invited our British friends to remove the problematic parts of their draft Internal Market Bill, by the end of September.”

“The problematic provisions have not been removed, therefore this morning, the Commission has decided to send a letter of formal notice to the UK government. This is the first step in an infringement procedure.”

No. 10 now has one month to respond to the commission’s letter of notice, which marks the beginning of a formal infringement process. It “could ultimately end in the European Court of Justice” in Luxembourg, The Guardian reports.

“The legal road for the EU is long and uncertain,” says Politico, and it’s “far more likely that the two sides would reach a political agreement before any process could be completed in the courts”. 

A government spokesman said the government “will respond to the letter in due course”, but said the bill was intended to “create a legal safety net to protect the integrity of the UK’s internal market, ensure ministers can always deliver on their obligations to Northern Ireland and protect the gains from the peace process”.

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