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EU likely to take legal action against UK over Northern Ireland protocol bill

According to BBC, the ministers insist current checks on some goods travelling from Great Britain to Northern Ireland must end to avoid harm to the peace process.

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Brussels: The European Union is likely to start legal action against the UK government on Wednesday over its decision to scrap some of the post-Brexit trade arrangements.

According to BBC, the ministers insist current checks on some goods travelling from Great Britain to Northern Ireland must end to avoid harm to the peace process.

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This has been opposed by the unionists in Northern Ireland who say that it will create a trade border in the Irish Sea and could lead to the break-up of the UK.

Since last month’s election in Northern Ireland, the Democratic Unionist Party has refused to serve in a power-sharing executive with Sinn Fein until the protocol is changed.

However, other parties in Northern Ireland such as Sinn Fein, the Alliance Party and the SDLP have accepted the deal as it stands.

Meanwhile, the UK government has said that it would prefer making the changes in the protocol with the EU, rather than act alone 

Foreign Secretary Liz Truss told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “We’ve been acting in good faith in these negotiations, but the fundamental issues that are affecting political stability in Northern Ireland are in the text of the protocol and what we need is the EU to agree to change the text of the protocol.

“Otherwise the negotiations won’t succeed. We’ve reached a dead end, because we can’t change those core issues around customs and around VAT that are losing us the consent of the unionist community in Northern Ireland.”

According to the UK government, these measures would ease the impact on businesses – set out in the Northern Ireland Protocol Bill – including the concept of “green lanes” and “red lanes” for trade.

In response, the EU has indicated it will restart legal action it began in March last year, when it accused the UK of delaying, without consultation, the enforcement of parts of the protocol relating to customs checks, BBC reported 

There is also the likelyhood of the EU taking the UK to the ECJ alleging that it did too little to set up border control posts and share data with the bloc.

Several top EU officials have spoken against the UK’s plan to change the protocol. The European Commission is expected to sign off the next legal steps at its meeting on Wednesday 

Irish Foreign Minister Simon Coveney told Today: “This is not consistent with international law and the British government’s obligations under international law, and that will be shown in time.”

He added that “effectively what they will be doing is collapsing the protocol” and removing protections against “the severe disruption of Brexit on the island of Ireland”. “Britain has taken a very regrettable decision that goes against all the agreements between the EU and Britain,” German Chancellor Olaf Sholz said.

“It is also unjustified because the European Commission made many pragmatic proposals.”

Meanwhile, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken urged Boris Johnson’s government to “continue negotiations with the EU in good faith”.

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