LONDON – The European Union on Thursday launched legal action against the United Kingdom after London initiated a unilateral violation of a Brexit withdrawal agreement signed last year against the United Kingdom. The European Commission has launched a formal infringement procedure against the United Kingdom by sending a letter of formal notice to the UK Government for breach of its obligations under the withdrawal agreement. The UK government has one month to respond to this letter. Sign up for an unlimited number of international newsletters, notifications and briefings. Get the latest legal information and critical analysis you can`t miss. Bespoke, just for you. In your inbox. Every day. Brussels, for its part, argues that since the withdrawal agreement came into force on 1 February and the Northern Ireland Protocol, “neither the EU nor the UK can amend, clarify, modify, interpret, despise or not apply it unilaterally.” By not removing the controversial parts of the Internal Market Act (the Act), the UK Government has breached its duty to act in good faith, in accordance with Article 5 of the Withdrawal Agreement. If the bill were passed, it would be contrary to the protocol on Ireland and Northern Ireland; it would allow the UNITED Kingdom authorities to ignore the legal effect of the material provisions of the protocol in the context of the withdrawal agreement. The bill was handed over to the Lords after MPs voted 340 to 256 in favour in the House of Commons. Different stages of infringement procedure: Article 258 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFUE) gives the Commission, as guardian of the treaties, the power to take legal action against a Member State that does not comply with its obligations under EU law.
The infringement procedure begins with a request for information (letter of formal notice) addressed to the Member State concerned, to which it is appropriate to respond within a specified period of time, usually within two months. If the Commission is dissatisfied with this information and concludes that the Member State concerned is not complying with its obligations under EU law, the Commission may submit a formal request for compliance (a reasoned opinion) inviting the Member State to inform the Commission of the steps taken to comply within a specified period, usually within two months. If a Member State does not guarantee compliance with EU law, the Commission may decide to take the Member State to the Court of Justice.