European Commission Takes Legal Action Against United Kingdom

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The European Commission sent its formal letter of notice to the United Kingdom for breaching its obligations under the Withdrawal Agreement. Following this, the infringement process against the United Kingdom officially began.

Background

Due to Brexit, a withdrawal agreement was ratified by the European Commission and the United Kingdom on the 1st of February, 2020. Both parties are legally bound under the agreement and it has taken effect under international law. Many joint committee meetings were held in presence of both the parties, the United Kingdom, and the European Union. The United Kingdom was given time to elaborate on its intentions and responding to the European Union’s concerns.

After many meetings, the United Kingdom expressed their view to go ahead with the draft bill. As per the Withdrawal Agreement, the Court of Justice of the European Union has jurisdiction. The interpretation and application of the agreement are in the hands of the commission as conferred by the Union Law.

Infringement

The United Kingdom passed a bill known as the United Kingdom Internal Market Bill. This Bill is stated to violate the withdrawal agreement. The Bill contained certain provisions that allow overriding of provisions agreed to, in the withdrawal agreement. In particular, the main infringement arose from Article 5.

This Article states that the European Union and the United Kingdom must take all measures to fulfil the obligation that has been meted out under the withdrawal agreement. The objectives of the withdrawal agreement are not to be jeopardized by any act by either party. The parties are bound by good faith in carrying out the tasks. The European Commission alleges that the United Kingdom has breached the obligation to act in good faith.

Implications

The United Kingdom has until the end of October 2020 to submit its response by way of a formal letter addressed to the European Commission. The letter must contain the United Kingdom’s observations on the alleged infringement. The observations will be perused. Further, a response opinion will be provided by the European Commission accordingly.


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