European Union launches legal action against UK after approving controversial Brexit bill

The British Union flag, also known as the Union Jack, flies with the flag of another European Union (EU) member state outside the European Parliament in Brussels, Belgium, on Thursday, January 30, 2020.


European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said on Thursday that he had sent a letter of formal notice to the UK regarding plans to override the Brexit divorce deal, which would target the first steps of legal action.

The UK legislature’s approval of Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s controversial internal market bill earlier this week comes after some ministers said the country could violate international law despite the law’s acceptance.

The UK has said the proposed legislation, which now requires the approval of the House of Lords, will protect the UK’s integrity. The bill would allow ministers to unilaterally amend elements of the country’s withdrawal agreement with the EU.

It has expanded divisions between the UK and Europe, threatening to end trade negotiations during the post-Brexit transition period.

Von der Leyen said in a televised statement that if adopted as such, it would be a complete violation of the Ireland-Northern Ireland Protocol.

The head of the EU’s executive arm said it had given Britain by the end of September to remove “problematic parts” of the domestic market bill, but the deadline had now passed and provisions remained.

“Therefore, this morning the Commission decided to send a letter of formal notice to the UK Government. This is the first step in the violation process.”

Von der Leyen said the UK government would have a month to respond with its “observations”. “In addition, the Commission will work hard for the full and timely implementation of the withdrawal agreement. We stand by our commitments.”

This is a breaking news story and will be updated soon.