WORLD UK to drop controversial clauses in divorce bill after agreement with EU

WORLD

UK to drop controversial clauses in divorce bill after agreement with EU

Xinhua

23:26, December 08, 2020

LONDON, Dec. 8 (Xinhua) -- The British government on Tuesday announced that it will drop the most controversial parts of the Internal Market bill after reaching an "agreement in principle" with the European Union (EU) on the implementation of the Brexit Withdrawal Agreement, in particular in relation to Northern Ireland.

Pedestrians cross Westminster Bridge as fog envelopes the Elizabeth Tower, commonly known by the name of the bell, "Big Ben", and the Palace of Westminster, home to the Houses of Parliament, in London on December 8, 2020. (Photo: AFP)

Cabinet Office Minister Michael Gove said on Twitter that he was "delighted" to have reached an agreement on all issues in the UK-EU Withdrawal Agreement Joint Committee following talks with European Commission Vice-President Maros Sefcovic.

He thanked Sefcovic and his team for "their constructive and pragmatic approach".

As a result, the British government said it would withdraw the most controversial parts from its Internal Market Bill, which could have seen Britain break international law, with the EU threatening legal action against Britain.

The EU had threatened legal action against Britain as part of a bitter row over the proposed legislation.

Gove and Sefcovic are co-chairs of the EU-UK Joint Committee, which oversees the implementation of the Withdrawal Agreement, the divorce deal Britain agreed with the regional bloc last year.

"Following intensive and constructive work over the past weeks by the EU and the UK, the two co-chairs can now announce their agreement in principle on all issues, in particular with regard to the Protocol on Ireland and Northern Ireland," said a statement released by the British government.

"An agreement in principle has been found in the following areas, amongst others: Border Control Posts/Entry Points specifically for checks on animals, plants and derived products, export declarations, the supply of medicines, the supply of chilled meats, and other food products to supermarkets, and a clarification on the application of State aid under the terms of the Protocol," the statement said.

"In view of these mutually agreed solutions, the UK will withdraw clauses 44, 45 and 47 of the UK Internal Market Bill and not introduce any similar provisions in the Taxation Bill," it added.

The details of the agreement have not been published, but Gove said he will update the British parliament on Wednesday.

The breakthrough comes as British Prime Minister Boris Johnson warned that the ongoing trade talks were proving "very tricky" ahead of his upcoming crunch meeting with top EU official on Thursday.

The post-Brexit trade negotiations between the two sides are at a crucial stage as time is running out for both sides to secure a deal before the Brexit transition period expires at the end of the year.

Failure to reach a free trade agreement means bilateral trade will fall back on World Trade Organization (WTO) rules in 2021

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