Brexit: Maroš Šefčovič slams ‘illegal’ bill
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The EU Commission Vice President told reporters in Brussels today that the bloc’s decision to launch legal infringement proceedings against Brexit Britain was “measured and proportionate”.
Mr Sefcovic said the bloc is offering the people of Northern Ireland “the best of both worlds”, branding its proposal to solve a dispute on the Brexit Protocol “oven-ready”.
In a thinly-veiled swipe at Boris Johnson, he said: “Our response today is measured and proportionate.
“This is why we are flashing out that what we are putting open the table is really over-ready.
“If we have a positive reaction from the UK side, political will and engagement, this can be done in no time.”
The Commissioner added: “We’ve been pondering over this issue for years.
“This was the best solution that we found.
“I have to say that concrete Northern Ireland solutions have been developed at the expressed wish of the UK Government.
“We, after laborious negotiations, we agreed upon it, we signed it, it was ratified and now we cannot imagine we can come up with something better that will correspond to these three priorities: peace, no hard border and protection of the single market.”
Mr Sefcovic said Boris Johnson’s Government knew what it was signing up to when it agreed the Northern Ireland Protocol.
But he suggested the Government had not been open with the public about what it involved.
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He told reporters in Brussels: “I’m sure the UK Government knew perfectly well what they signed up to when they agreed to the protocol – although I have to admit they didn’t do a very good job explaining it to the public.
“Most importantly, it is legally inconceivable that the UK Government decides what kinds of goods can enter the EU single market.”
The dispute could ultimately lead to a trade war, with tariffs or even the suspension of the entire Brexit deal between the UK and European Union, Maros Sefcovic acknowledged.
Asked about potential further action against the UK, he told reporters in Brussels: “If this draft Bill becomes the law then I cannot exclude anything.
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“But we are not there yet and we want to solve this issue as the two partners should, through negotiations, looking for the common ground and delivering for the people of Northern Ireland.”
The European Commission vice-president warned the UK against simply ignoring any European Court of Justice rulings on breaches of the Northern Ireland Protocol.
“Not respecting the European Court of Justice rulings would be just piling one breach of international law upon another,” he said.
He questioned whether that would be “compatible with the proud British traditions of upholding and respecting the rule of law”.
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