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Politics

EU sues UK again

The European Commission initiated four new lawsuits against Britain after the lower house of the British parliament approved a bill to repeal certain rules governing Northern Ireland trade agreements after Brexit.

The EC said the U.K.'s unwillingness to engage in meaningful discussions about the protocol governing these trade agreements and the House of Commons' passage of the Northern Ireland Protocol Bill undermined the spirit of cooperation.

This brings to seven the number of "breach procedures" that the European Commission has launched over what it believes are Britain's failure to comply with the trade aspects of the divorce agreement with Northern Ireland, agreed to by both sides.

The procedures could lead to the European Court of Justice (ECJ) imposing fines, though that likely won't happen for at least a year, Reuters reported.

London has proposed eliminating some checks on goods from the rest of the United Kingdom coming into the British province and has challenged the role of the European Court of Justice in deciding parts of the post-Brexit agreement agreed to by the EU and Britain.

The four new legal proceedings are not related to the UK's new plans, but to the charge that the UK has not complied with the protocol.

The British province is in the EU's single market for goods, which means that imports from the rest of the United Kingdom are subject to customs declarations and sometimes require inspection upon arrival.

The agreement was created to avoid restoring border controls between Northern Ireland and EU member Ireland, but sparked the ire of pro-British unionist parties by effectively creating a border in the Irish Sea.

Specifically, the Commission accused Britain of failing to comply with customs requirements for goods moving from Northern Ireland to Britain, of failing to comply with EU rules regarding excise duties in general and duties on alcohol, and of failing to comply with EU rules regarding sales tax for e-commerce.

The Commission gave the U.K. two months to respond.