Britain to Unilaterally Amend Withdrawal Agreement?
17 September 2020
The prospect of a No-Deal Brexit has increased after the UK government introduced legislation which it admits is in breach of international law. The move has caused consternation among the EU Member States and threatens to derail the trade negotiations. Prime Minister Boris Johnson has also set a deadline of 15 October for the conclusion of the trade negotiations, in a move which has also heightened concerns of a No-Deal.
The Internal Market Bill provides it will have effect notwithstanding any inconsistency or incompatibility which it may have with any domestic or international law. Concerns are being raised that the UK Government is unilaterally amending the Withdrawal Agreement with the EU in two respects. First, the Bill would give the UK Government the power to dis-apply the state aid rules in the Northern Ireland Protocol. Second, the Bill would give the Government the power to implement their own rules on export declarations for goods moving from Northern Ireland to Great Britain, potentially conflicting with the Withdrawal Agreement’s requirement for the UK to comply with the EU’s international obligations on exports.
The move has been rebuked by political figures in Britain, including former Prime Ministers John Major, Tony Blair and Theresa May with concerns being raised by political figures across the EU including Taoiseach Micheál Martin and Commission President Ursula von der Leyen.