The European Union took legal action against Britain on Thursday over its plans to pass legislation that would breach parts of the legally binding divorce agreement the two sides reached. The EU action underscored the worsening relations with Britain, which was a member of the bloc until Jan. 31. Both sides are trying to forge a rudimentary free-trade agreement before the end of the year, but the fight over the controversial UK Internal Market bill has soured relations this month, per the AP. If the bill becomes law, it will give Britain the power to disregard part of the Brexit withdrawal treaty on trade with Northern Ireland, which shares a 300-mile border with the Republic of Ireland. EU leaders fear that if that happens, it could lead to the reimposition of a hard land border between Northern Ireland, which is part of Britain, and EU member Ireland, and erode the stability that has underpinned peace since the 1998 Good Friday accord.
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said the British plan "by its very nature is a breach of the obligation of good faith laid down in the withdrawal agreement." She added: 'If adopted as is, it will be in full contradiction to the protocol of Ireland-Northern Ireland" in the withdrawal agreement. The EU had given London until Wednesday to withdraw the bill, but UK lawmakers in the House of Commons voted 340-256 Tuesday in favor of it. The UK government says it respects the Good Friday accord and the Brexit withdrawal agreement, but that it wants the law in case the EU makes unreasonable demands after Brexit that could impede trade between Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK. The bill must also be approved by the UK's House of Lords, where it's sure to meet strong opposition for breaching international law.
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