The Tricky Isle
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The European Union launched new legal proceedings against Britain on Wednesday, the latest salvo over an agreement signed between the two parties following London’s exit from the bloc two years ago, CNN reported.
The bloc’s executive arm said it took action because the United Kingdom had failed to implement a deal known as the Northern Ireland Protocol “despite repeated calls” to do so. The move came after the British government announced plans to change a section of the deal that would keep a border open between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland – part of the UK and the EU respectively.
The contentious section of the Protocol was put in place to protect the Good Friday Agreement, which helped end years of deadly sectarian conflict, and demands that there be no hard border between the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland.
The protocol would keep Northern Ireland within the EU regulatory scheme but put checks on goods leaving the British territory for the rest of the UK.
The UK said that the agreement needs to be “fixed” to avoid “burdensome customs processes, inflexible regulation, tax and spend discrepancies and democratic governance issues.” But EU officials warned that changing the agreement unilaterally would violate international law.
Still, the bloc said that it was willing to work with Britain on finding “common ground and delivering for the people of Northern Ireland.”
Analysts told the Wall Street Journal that if the matter is not resolved, it will spark a trade war between the two and hurt their economies amid soaring inflation and the economic fallout caused by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and the pandemic.