The United Kingdom and the European Union will hold emergency talks on Thursday regarding the UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s plan to dismiss parts of the Brexit divorce treaty, leading to the EU looking at possible legal action against Britain.
After the UK claimed that it will be acting outside international law by going against the divorce treaty, EU negotiators are currently trying to work out how they will be working with the UK.
Whilst the UK signed the treaty and formally left the EU in January, it still remains a member in everything that the EU is involved in when it comes to decision-making until the end of this year under the agreement made.
European Commission Vice President Maros Sefcovic is set to meet with his UK counterpart Michael Gove in London, with there being scheduled trade talks between chief negotiators Michel Barnier and David Frost ongoing at the same time of the meeting.
If the EU finds what the UK says to be unsatisfactory, it could use a part of the Withdrawal Agreement to pursue legal action against the UK, yet there would still be no resolution before the deadline for Britain’s full exit, set for the end of the year.
An EU diplomat told Reuters that “The dispute-settling mechanism under the Withdrawal Agreement is there”.
Two EU officials that are also involved in the talks claimed that the Commission would analyse the UK’s proposed Internal Market Bill, with this bill overriding parts of the Withdrawal Agreement, once it is passed to take into account any other amendments made prior to making a final decision on the legal case.
British transport minister Grant Shapps said on BBC radio that “some of the more extreme interpretation of this is totally wrong”.
The British government stated that its planned law is only clarifying certain ambiguities found in the withdrawal agreement.
The UK has urged the EU to either accept the breach of the treaty as it is, or else settle for a very messy divorce, which could lead to the worsening of an already very tense relationship.
Talks over a new trade deal have stalled due to disagreements when it comes to state aid rules and fishing, and if an agreement is not reached, almost €845 billion in trade between the EU and the UK could be thrown into confusion right at the start of 2021, which will only continue to hinder the two parties after the economic disaster caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.