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European Commission President, Ursula von der Leyen, confirmed this week the EU will take legal action against the UK. She said: “We had invited our British friends to remove the problematic parts of their draft Internal Market Bill by the end of September. “This draft bill is, by its very nature, a breach of the obligation of good faith laid down in the withdrawal agreement. “Moreover, if adopted as is, it will be in full contradiction to the protocol on Ireland and Northern Ireland.”
She added: ”The problematic provisions have not been removed. Therefore this morning the Commission has decided to send a letter of formal notice to the UK Government. This is the first step in an infringement procedure.”
The Internal Market Bill was passed by Parliament, but not without days of controversy, as well as anger from Brussels.
However, despite the EU raging at the UK – historian David Marsh highlights that Europe’s record on international law isn’t spotless.
He told Express.co.uk: “This has been brought up by MPs, but Germany hasn’t always been squeaky clean on international law.
“It is indeed true that all kinds of respectable countries contravene international law from time to time, the Germans have done that on several occasions.
“I suppose they aren’t particularly proud of it and try to sweep it under the carpet.
“But the difference here is that the Northern Ireland Secretary said rather defiantly that they are breaking international law in a precise and limited way, this is somewhat unusual.
“Leaving aside international law, you can certainly make the point that the EU member states have been quite flexible in interpreting treaties.”
This was a point echoed by Conservative MP Bill Cash.
He wrote for Conservative Home that the UK is within its right to try and override the withdrawal agreement, listing examples of Europe’s transgressions.
He said: “In 2010, the EU broke the Lisbon Treaty. Christine Lagarde admitted that ‘we violated all the rules’ over the Greek and Irish bailouts.
“The EU is now unilaterally changing the bilateral Channel Tunnel Treaty without our being able to prevent it.
“The EU has demanded jurisdiction over crucial aspects of UK sovereignty, despite our lawful exit, as a precondition to concessions on trade.
“It has threatened to use the World Trade Organisation (WTO)’s ‘most favored nation’ principle against the UK – contrary to state practice, core principles of world trade and requirements to negotiate ‘in good faith’.”
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He also highlighted how a German Chancellor tried to disregard agreements between European countries in the early years of what would become the Eurozone.
Sir Cash added: “Look, too, at the track record of EU Member States. Germany blatantly breached international law when, during the European Monetary System in the 1970s, it released the Bundesbank from the duty to intervene against the dollar.
“The then-Chancellor, Helmut Schmidt, stated: ‘we breached applicable international treaty law, the IMF treaty, in multiple ways. We have neither complied with all the rules, the procedural rules of the treaty, nor have we complied with the substantive provisions.'”
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