The European Commission’s move comes after UK lawmakers passed legislation to scrap parts of the post-Brexit trade deal.
The European Union executive has launched four new court cases against the UK after the House of Commons passed a bill to scrap some rules governing Northern Ireland’s post-Brexit trade deals.
The European Commission, which oversees EU-UK relations, said on Friday the UK’s unwillingness to engage in meaningful discussions on the protocol that governs these trade deals and the passage of the Northern Ireland Protocol bill through the House of Commons undermined the spirit of cooperation.
London called the move “disappointing”. “Litigation is in nobody’s interest and will not solve the problems facing people and businesses in Northern Ireland,” said a government spokesman.
The government will examine the EU’s arguments “and react in due course”.
This brings to seven the number of “infringement cases” the Commission has opened over Britain’s disregard for the Northern Ireland trade aspects of the Brexit divorce deal agreed by both sides.
The proceedings could result in the European Court of Justice (ECJ) imposing fines, although that likely won’t be the case in at least a year.
London has proposed removing some controls on goods from the rest of the UK entering the British countryside and has questioned the ECJ’s role in deciding parts of the post-Brexit settlement agreed by both sides.
The Commission’s four new court cases are not related to the UK’s new plans, but to allegations that Britain has failed to implement the protocol.
Northern Ireland is in the EU’s single market for goods, which means imports from the rest of the UK are subject to customs declarations and sometimes require inspections upon arrival.
The deal was struck to avoid reintroducing border controls between Northern Ireland and EU member Ireland, but has inflamed pro-British union parties by effectively creating a border in the Irish Sea.
In particular, the Commission accused the UK of failing to comply with customs rules for goods entering the UK from Northern Ireland, of failing to implement EU rules on excise duties in general and taxes on alcohol, and of failing to implement EU rules on sales tax for e-commerce .
The Commission has given the UK two months to respond.