EU beats UK with four new Brexit violations

The EU has imposed four new infringement procedures on the UK for failing to properly apply customs, excise and VAT rules in Northern Ireland.

The rules apply under a protocol to the UK’s 2019 exit agreement, which London is trying to suspend by law.

British Foreign Secretary Liz Truss, who authored the bill, is currently the front-runner to replace Prime Minister Boris Johnson in the Tory leadership race.

The draft prompted the EU last month to accuse the United Kingdom of violating international law and to announce a first series of treaty violations.

The European Commission said on Friday that failure to apply customs rules “significantly increases the risk of smuggling across Northern Ireland”.

In a statement, the commission said it had delayed launching legal proceedings for over a year to “make room to seek common solutions with the UK”.

But it said Britain’s “unwillingness to engage in meaningful discussions since last February” and the passage of bill suspending the Northern Ireland Protocol “speak directly against that spirit”.

“No British law should go through Parliament,” European Commission spokesman Eric Mamer said on Friday.

“We were very patient. We have worked with the UK for a very long time to find solutions to the practical difficulties that might arise in implementing the Protocol.

“We have sat back on proposals to resolve these issues.

“We are still in a situation where Britain is actually not implementing its part of the deal.

“If we thought there was a good chance of sitting together on Monday and coming to a solution, we wouldn’t initiate the violations.”

Under the Protocol, Northern Ireland is treated as part of the EU’s single market for goods and is required to apply EU trade, company, energy, tax and other laws.

The EU has accused the UK of not collecting export data on goods moving from Northern Ireland to mainland Britain and of not providing that data to the EU.

It says the UK has also failed to introduce new EU rules on excise duties, particularly on alcohol, amid fears of the bloc losing revenue and giving the UK an unfair competitive advantage.

And it says simplified VAT rules will not apply to sales of goods under €150 in Northern Ireland, posing a “tax risk” for the bloc, according to the EU.

Friday’s move brings the number of open breaches in the UK to seven.

London has two months to respond to the four new breaches or face possible court action and fines.

In June, the Commission revived a food export certification breach and added two new breaches over the UK’s failure to carry out veterinary checks and collect certain trade data in Northern Ireland.

The new breaches come just a day after the UK Treasury announced that the UK’s exit bill has increased by €10 billion to €50.2 billion.

The rise is mainly due to pension cost inflation and the fact that the UK stayed a year longer than planned as a result of protracted Brexit negotiations.

According to the first estimates in 2017, the UK’s liabilities amount to 40 to 45 billion euros. EU beats UK with four new Brexit violations

Fry Electronics Team

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