Brexit: UK has not replied to EU letter of formal notice over controversial bill
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Brexit: UK has not replied to EU letter of formal notice over controversial bill

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The United Kingdom has not replied within one month to the European Union’s letter of formal notice, which launched an infringement procedure against the UK on 1 October, the European Commission said Tuesday.

The UK failed to remove certain “problematic provisions” from its controversial Internal Market Bill that “would allow the UK authorities to disregard the legal effect of the Protocol’s substantive provisions under the Withdrawal Agreement.”

That prompted Europe to launch an infringement procedure and send a letter of formal notice on 1 October inviting the UK government “to send its observations within a month,” Commission President Ursula von der Leyen explained at the time, but the UK did not respond.

“Therefore we are considering next steps, including issuing a reasoned opinion,” said a European Commission spokesman. The reasoned opinion is a prerequisite for a possible referral to the EU Court of Justice.

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While Britain left the EU at the end of January, it is currently in a transition period during which it continues to apply EU rules until 31 December.

If adopted as it stands, the Internal Market Bill will undermine the protocol on Ireland and Northern Ireland, which is due to come into force at the end of the transition period to avoid the return of a border between the two parts of the island that could threaten peace.

Meanwhile, the UK and the EU are continuing their negotiations in Brussels this week to try to reach an agreement on their future relations. The Commission commented that they were working towards an agreement but that a lot of work remained to be done.

If no agreement is reached by 31 December, World Trade Organisation (WTO) rules will apply for trade between the UK and the EU, with high tariffs and extensive customs controls.

Jason Spinks
The Brussels Times