EU, UK officials meet in emergency talks over controversial Brexit bill
LONDON. KAZINFORM - Senior officials from the European Union (EU) and Britain met in London on Thursday for hastily arranged talks over a controversial Brexit bill as British Prime Minister Boris Johnson intended to override key parts of the Withdrawal Agreement previously agreed with Brussels, Xinhua News reports.
British Cabinet Office Minister Michael Gove talked with European Commission Vice President Maros Sefcovic in an «extraordinary meeting», overshadowing the latest crucial round of negotiations between Britain's chief Brexit negotiator David Frost and his EU counterpart Michel Barnier, which entered its final day in London on Thursday.
Sefcovic told Gove that violating the Withdrawal Agreement would break international law and jeopardize trade talks, according to an EU statement.
«In no uncertain terms» that the «timely and full implementation» of the divorce deal is «a legal obligation,» said the statement.
Sefcovic urged the British government to withdraw these measures that break international law from the bill «by the end of the month», adding that the Withdrawal Agreement «contains a number of mechanisms and legal remedies to address violations of the legal obligations contained in the text - which the European Union will not be shy in using».
Issuing its own robust response, the British government said it would «discharge its treaty obligations in good faith,» but added that «in the difficult and highly exceptional circumstances in which we find ourselves, it is important to remember the fundamental principle of parliamentary sovereignty.»
Rejecting Britain's arguments that the bill is designed to protect peace in Northern Ireland, the EU argued that «it does the opposite».
Britain on Wednesday published the controversial bill, known as the UK Internal Markets Bill, which overrides elements of Johnson's Brexit deal with Brussels, despite a senior minister explicitly acknowledging that the plan would breach international law.
The new bill will be formally debated by MPs in the British parliament for the first time on Sept. 14. It is intended to ensure Northern Ireland can continue to enjoy unfettered access to markets in the rest of Britain.
The bill was published amid the EU's growing anger after Britain brushed aside warnings from the regional bloc that breaching the treaty would prevent any trade deal being struck. The British government has said it is prepared to walk away with no deal if progress is not made soon.