After the post-Brexit transition period ended on 31 December last year, the EU gave London a “grace period” until 31 March to introduce these controls, to allow authorities and businesses to adapt to the new post-Brexit arrangements.
Earlier this month, London unilaterally extended the grace period by six months, after asking the EU for more flexibility. But the EU is still waiting for a roadmap from the UK on the implementation of the Northern Ireland protocol to assess what flexibility is really meant.
Judging that London was dragging its feet, the EU decided to get tougher. The Commission sent a letter of formal notice to London on Monday for violating the protocol. This is the first step in the EU’s infringement procedure, which can lead to a conviction before the European Court of Justice (ECJ).
The UK has one month to respond to the letter of formal notice.
“The EU and the UK agreed the Protocol together. We are also bound to implement it together,” said the EU co-chair of the joint committee, Marcos Šefčovič. “Unilateral decisions and international law violations by the UK defeat its very purpose and undermine trust between us. The UK must properly implement it if we are to achieve our objectives.”
We agreed IE/NI Protocol together, as the only way to protect Good Friday (Belfast) Agreement. Bound to implement it together. Unilateral action undermines trust.
“I do hope that through the collaborative, pragmatic and constructive spirit that has prevailed in our work so far on implementing the Withdrawal Agreement, we can solve these issues in the Joint Committee without recourse to further legal means,” the Commissioner added.
Šefčovič has also “sent a political letter to David Frost, the UK’s co-chair of the Joint Committee, calling on the UK government to rectify and refrain from putting into practice the statements and guidance published on 3 March and 4 March 2021,” the Commission said in a press release.