Brexit | UK agrees to withdraw law that violated international law and angered the EU

The British government has agreed in principle to withdraw controversial provisions in Brexit legislation that infuriated the EU.

The measures of the UK internal market bill would have annulled parts of the binding divorce agreement with the EU in relation to trade agreements for Northern Ireland, violating international law.

The news came in a joint announcement by the UK Chief Minister, Michael Gove, and the Vice-President of the European Commission, Maroes Šefčovič, co-chairs of the Joint Committee overseeing the implementation of the exit agreement in relation to Northern Ireland.

This move appears to be an ordeal by the Boris Johnson government, which is stuck in negotiations to reach a final deal on trade and future relations with the EU before the post-exit transition period expires at the end of the year.

The plan to ignore parts of the divorce deal was a huge obstacle in those separate trade negotiations that had soured relations with the EU and with Ireland in particular.

Johnson remembers that the situation continues “very difficult”

However on the most important issue of a trade deal, Johnson said “the situation right now is very, very difficult.”

“But hope is eternal. I will do my best to solve it, if we can,” he said as he prepares to go to Brussels later this week to meet Commission Chief Ursula von der Leyen.

German Minister for European Affairs Michael Roth said “political will in London” was needed to secure a deal.

“Our future relationship is based on trust and security. It is precisely this trust that is at stake in our negotiations at this time,” said Roth, whose country currently holds the rotating EU presidency.

I am pleased to announce agreement in principle on all issues in the Joint Committee of the Withdrawal Agreement between the UK and the EU. Thanks to @MarosSefcovic and his team for their constructive and pragmatic approach.

Tomorrow I will update Parliament.

In their statement, Gove and Šefčovič said that agreement had been reached on all issues related to the Northern Ireland Protocol, part of the binding Withdrawal Agreement that set out the terms of the UK’s exit from the EU last month. from January.

“In view of these mutually agreed solutions, the UK will withdraw clauses 44, 45 and 47 of the UK internal market bill, and will not introduce any similar provisions in the tax bill,” they said.

Under the divorce agreement, Northern Ireland will remain subject to some EU rules after the end of the transition period after the entry into force of the Free Trade Agreement, in order to maintain an open land border with the Republic of Ireland.

This effectively creates a regulatory divide in the Irish Sea between Great Britain and Northern Ireland. However, the UK Government’s Internal Market Bill would have given UK ministers powers to override some provisions of the treaty relating to border bureaucracy and state aid rules.

Northern Ireland’s trade bodies have warned that companies do not have enough time to prepare for the new border agreements that will take effect from 1 January.

A little hope in an eternally complicated negotiation

Tuesday’s development should improve the atmosphere between London and Brussels as talks on a trade deal and the future relationship appear to be falling apart.

The obstacles to an agreement remain the same, with significant gaps in terms of fishing rights, competition rules, and a system to enforce an agreement.

The UK had already hinted that it would withdraw its controversial planned measures to secure a divorce settlement should a trade deal be reached.

That prompted Ireland’s Foreign Minister Simon Coveney to comment on Monday: “They are simply removing something that, in the EU’s view, should never have been on the table.”

In a later statement on Tuesday, Coveney said the UK’s withdrawal from the controversial plan was “of particular importance.” It also welcomed the news that an agreement in principle had been reached on all outstanding issues on the implementation of the measures of the divorce settlement for Ireland and Northern Ireland.

“I hope this can also provide some of the positive momentum necessary to instill trust and enable progress in the broader context of future relationship negotiations.”