The British government is “disappointed” that the European Union has launched three criminal proceedings against the United Kingdom, said a spokesman for Prime Minister Boris Johnson.
However, the government wants to read the documents carefully before issuing a formal response.
The criminal proceedings are about the Northern Ireland protocol. According to the EU, the United Kingdom has on its initiative violated agreements to ensure that there would be no hard border between Ireland and Northern Ireland after Brexit. On Monday, the United Kingdom announced a new law to lift trade rules between Northern Ireland and Britain.
The EU considers the UK’s unilateral action “illegal”. The European Commission is starting three procedures to get the British back to the table. If they do not meet Brussels within two months, the Commission can go to the European Court of Justice. The legal action could result in hefty fines from the UK government.
Both parties say that they still want to agree, but that the other refuses the outstretched hand. The British denounce the EU’s rigid stance and believe that negotiations should take place. Johnson’s spokesman says the EU’s proposed approach is no different from what has been said before. “That causes extra burdens for citizens and businesses and that would be a step back.”