Posted on Sep 10, 2020
The UK and EU are to hold emergency talks as tensions rise over Boris Johnson's shock move to override key parts of the Brexit withdrawal agreement.
Cabinet Office Minister Michael Gove is to meet EU official Maros Sefcovic in London to discuss how the development could affect the island of Ireland, as Brussels, totally wrong-footed by the move, seeks "clarifications" on the implementation of the agreement.
BBC Europe Editor Katya Adler reported “Mr Sefcovic has already spoken to Mr Gove by phone but said he has called this emergency meeting because he wants to hear in person precisely what the government's intentions are. Before leaving Brussels, Mr Sefcovic echoed other European leaders when he insisted the withdrawal agreement was not up for renegotiation.”
Meanwhile, trade talks between UK Brexit negotiator David Frost and his EU counterpart Michel Barnier continue, despite rumours that the latter is to be sidelined: an announcement is expected in Commission president Ursula von der Leyen’s State of the Union speech on September 16th
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- The gloves are off: UK threatens to tear-up EU withdrawal agreement
- EU demands veto on post-Brexit legislation - Michel Barnier to be sidelined
Johnson's proposed Internal Market Bill, which was published on Wednesday, addresses the so-called Northern Ireland Protocol - an element of the withdrawal agreement designed to prevent a hard border returning to the island of Ireland.
The bill proposes no new checks on goods moving from Northern Ireland to Great Britain. It gives UK ministers powers to modify or "disapply" rules relating to the movement of goods that will come into force from 1 January, if the UK and EU are unable to strike a trade deal.
Johnson insist the bill would "ensure the integrity of the UK internal market" and hand power to Scotland and Wales, while protecting the Northern Ireland peace process.
But critics say the move will damage the UK's international reputation after a minister admitted the plans break international law.
The EU says it still wants a deal but that the UK respecting the withdrawal agreement remains a prerequisite.
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