EU chief announces start of legal action against UK over Brexit bill changes

1 October 2020, 10:15 | Updated: 1 October 2020, 15:05

Ursula von der Leyen delivered a statement this morning
Ursula von der Leyen delivered a statement this morning. Picture: EU

By Asher McShane

The EU has taken the first step in legal action against the UK over Boris Johnson's plans to make changes to the Internal Markets bill.

European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen said the bloc has sent a letter of formal notice to No10, the first step in an infringement process.

The letter gives the UK has one month to respond over a potential breach of the Brexit withdrawal agreement.

She said: "We had invited our British friends to remove the problematic parts of their draft Internal Market Bill by the end of September.

"This draft bill is, by its very nature, a breach of the obligation of good faith laid down in the Withdrawal Agreement.

"It's more political than legal."

"Moreover, if adopted as is it will be in full contradiction of the protocol on Ireland/Northern Ireland.

"The deadline lapsed yesterday, the problematic provisions have not been removed.

"Therefore this morning the commission have decided to send a letter of formal notice to the UK Government. This is the first step in an infringement procedure."

"The commission will continue to work hard towards a full and timely implementation of the Withdrawal Agreement," she said.

"We stand by our commitments."

No10 said in a statement: “We will respond to the letter in due course.

"We have clearly set out our reasons for introducing the measures related to the Northern Ireland Protocol.

"We need to create a legal safety net to protect the integrity of the UK’s internal market."