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EU considers legal action over Britain's plan for Brexit breach

EU hands Britain end-of-September deadline to withdraw internal market bill

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Brexit | European Union

Alberto Nardelli | Bloomberg  |  London 

Anti-Brexit protester, EU
Anti-Brexit protester holds placards as EU’s chief negotiator Michel Barnier walks to a meeting on Wednesday | Reuters

The (EU) is studying the possibility of legal action against the UK over Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s plans to breach the agreement governing Britain’s exit from the bloc, according to a document seen by Bloomberg.

European Commission vice-president Maros Sefcovic held emergency talks with Cabinet Office Minister Michael Gove on Thursday as the bloc weighed how to respond.

The EU may have a case to seek legal remedies under the Withdrawal Agreement even before controversial provisions in the UK internal-market bill are passed by Parliament, and would have a clear justification once the bill becomes law, according to the bloc’s preliminary analysis of the UK legislation.

Johnson is facing a backlash from the EU and from within his own ruling Conservative Party after his government said it is ready to break its commitments to the EU over the Irish border. With negotiations over a trade deal already deadlocked over state aid rules and fishing quotas, the controversy is fueling concern there may be no agreement by the year-end deadline, triggering tariffs between the UK and the world’s biggest single market.

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Brussels on Thursday asked the UK to immediately drop plans to override Britain’s treaty or face legal action, amid a sharp escalation in the dispute between the two sides over the measures.

In a terse statement, the European Commission gave Britain a late September deadline to withdraw its Home Market bill, warning that the bill posed a threat to the Good Friday deal that had “Severely damaged trust between the EU and the UK. “.

First Published: Fri, September 11 2020. 00:49 IST
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