'This Is Illegal': European Commission Chief Savages UK Plans To Rip Up Brexit Deal

·2-min read
European Commission vice-president Maros Sefcovic (Photo: Rob Pinney via PA Wire/PA Images)
European Commission vice-president Maros Sefcovic (Photo: Rob Pinney via PA Wire/PA Images)

European Commission vice-president Maros Sefcovic  (Photo: Rob Pinney via PA Wire/PA Images)

A senior European Union official has said the UK government’s plans to rip up the Northern Ireland protocol is “illegal”.

European Commission vice-president Maros Sefcovic hit out as he announced the EU was launching legal action against the UK.

He said Boris Johnson and his ministers had set out to “unilaterally break international law”.

Sefcovic’s comments came two days after foreign secretary Liz Truss unveiled the Northern Ireland Protocol Bill, which seeks to over-ride key elements of the Brexit deal the prime minister agreed with Brussels in 2019.

The legislation would give ministers the power to unilaterally scrap parts of the protocol which impose customs checks on goods travelling between Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK.

The government has insisted the move is necessary to protect the Good Friday Agreement.

But speaking in Brussels, Sefcovic said that would mean “breaking an agreement that protects peace and stability in Northern Ireland, an agreement reached together only three years ago.

He said: “Let there be no doubt: there is no legal nor political justification whatsoever for unilaterally changing an international agreement.

“Opening the door to unilaterally changing an international agreement is a breach of international law as well.

“So let’s call a spade a spade: this is illegal.”

Sefcovic said the bill is “extremely damaging to mutual trust and respect between the EU and the UK”.

“It has created deep uncertainty and casts a shadow over our overall co-operation, all at a time when respect for international agreements has never been more important,” he said in an apparent reference to the Ukraine war.

“That is why the Commission has today decided to take legal action against the UK for not complying with significant parts of the protocol on Ireland/Northern Ireland.”

This article originally appeared on HuffPost UK and has been updated.

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