EU vows legal action against UK over Northern Ireland Brexit ‘breach’

The European Union has promised legal action after the British government unilaterally extended a grace period for checks on food imports to Northern Ireland. It’s a move that Brussels says breaches the terms of the Brexit divorce deal. The UK says its taking steps to fix the trade issues.

But, there are growing fears that this latest fork in the road over Brexit trade could threaten peace. These trucks carry goods from England, Scotland and Wales … onto ships that cross the Irish Sea, to Northern Ireland.

In Belfast, products arriving from the rest of Britain are subject to import rules to from the EU. Under Brexit, Northern Ireland has remained part of the EU’s single market for goods. Checks aren’t fully applied yet. But the UK has decided to extend this transition period for some products, without asking the EU first. Brussels says that’s illegal, and undermines the Brexit deal.

But Britain says the Brexit supply checks are causing huge disruption. A delay – it says – will give businesses more time to get used to the new rules. The tensions aren’t just affecting trade. Paramilitary groups unhappy with the Brexit disruption have temporarily abandoned Northern Ireland’s historic 1998 peace deal, known as the Good Friday Agreement.

The groups say they’re not planning a return to violence. But it’s heightening fears that Northern Ireland’s delicate balance of peace is being destabilized.

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