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Northern Ireland dispute: EU initiates proceedings against London

In the dispute over customs regulations for Northern Ireland, the EU has initiated proceedings against the British government.

London wanted to make unilateral changes to the Northern Ireland Protocol. The action violates international law.

In the dispute over Brexit rules for the British province of Northern Ireland, the EU is taking action against London. The EU Commission was thus reacting to a law presented at the beginning of the week with which the British government could undermine a joint agreement – the so-called Northern Ireland Protocol.

Specifically, three legal procedures are involved: two of these infringement procedures will be initiated, another will be resumed. These can result in proceedings before the European Court of Justice and a fine for London.

Violation of international law

Despite repeated requests, the British government has failed to implement the protocol, the EU Commission said. “This is a clear violation of international law.” That is unacceptable, said EU Commissioner Maros Sefcovic, who is responsible for the negotiations between London and Brussels.

Post-Brexit, a dispute erupted over how and where goods entering Northern Ireland from the UK should be inspected. Both sides want to avoid a border on the island of Ireland amid fears it could result in violence and reignite the Northern Ireland conflict.

Part of the Brexit agreement

The Northern Ireland Protocol is part of the 2019 Brexit deal. It stipulates that the province, which is part of the United Kingdom, will continue to follow the rules of the EU internal market and the European Customs Union. This is intended to prevent product controls for the EU member Republic of Ireland in order to prevent the conflict between opponents and supporters of a unification of the two parts of Ireland flaring up again. But now an intra-British goods border has been created.

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