EU Vows Legal Response to U.K. Violation of Irish Brexit Accord

European Commission Vice President Maros Sefcovic said the European Union will take legal action against the U.K. for breaching the terms of their Brexit deal.

The British announcement that it will take unilateral action on trade rules relating to Northern Ireland marks the second time Prime Minister Boris Johnson has declared he intends to breach international law, Sefcovic said Wednesday.

“This amounts to a violation of the relevant substantive provisions of the Protocol on Ireland/Northern Ireland,” Sefcovic said in a statement. “This also constitutes a clear departure from the constructive approach that has prevailed up until now.”

Sefcovic is due to told talks later on Wednesday with U.K. minister, David Frost, the former chief Brexit negotiator who is now responsible for relations with the EU.

On a day when most of Westminster was focused on the budget, the British government said it will waive customs paperwork on food entering Northern Ireland until October, beyond the April 1 deadline it had agreed on with the EU. The U.K. had previously asked for the deadline to be extended, but the bloc hadn’t given its consent.

Northern Ireland Secretary Brandon Lewis said in a written ministerial statement that the government “is taking several temporary operational steps to avoid disruptive cliff edges as engagement with the EU continues.”

“These recognize that appropriate time must be provided for businesses to implement new requirements,” he said.

Trade across the Irish Sea has been one of the most contentious features of Britain’s post-Brexit relationship with the EU, as companies have had to grapple with new paperwork and frictions on commerce.

©2021 Bloomberg L.P.

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