EU news: Brussels SUES Britain for breaking EU rules – European judges punish UK | Politics | News

EU news: Brussels SUES Britain for breaking EU rules - European judges punish UK | Politics | News

The European Court of Justice upheld a complaint from the European Commission that the UK was not obeying air pollution rules while it was still a member. Its Luxembourg-based judges ordered Britain to pay the costs for both itself and the EU. The ECJ could have ordered Britain to pay multimillion pound fines as a result of the dispute. 

Under the Brexit Withdrawal Agreement, Brussels can still come after the UK for historic complaints – if they were made before the end of the transition period at the end of last year.

In May 2018, the Commission signalled it would sue Britain – and five other member states – in order to decrease pollution.

Germany, France, Italy, Romania and Hungary were also included in the legal challenge.

It was said the UK had failed meet limits set on nitrogen oxide and particulate matter, which are caused by road traffic, industry, heating and agriculture.

At the time, the EU sent out warning letters to each member state to demand immediate changes before the legal challenge was escalated to the ECJ.

The Commission said the UK had failed to deliver “credible, effective and timely measures to reduce pollution as soon as possible, as required under EU law”.

Toxic air results in more than 400,000 early deaths across Europe each year.

Britain may have left the EU but it is still under the cosh for any legal action brought against it by the bloc while it was still a member.

The Brexit deal states: “The Court of Justice of the European Union shall continue to have jurisdiction in any proceedings brought by or against the United Kingdom before the end of the transition period.

“Such jurisdiction shall apply to all stages of proceedings, including appeal proceedings before the Court of Justice and proceedings before the General Court where the case is referred back to the General Court.”

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It was plunged to a fresh low last night after Boris Johnson announced plans to ignore Brussels red tape relating to Northern Ireland.

Downing Street said it was necessary to keep trade flowing freely between Great Britain and NI until October.

The move will protect supermarket supply chains to the region.

Brussels accused No 10 of deliberately breaking the terms of the Brexit deal – and indicated it could retaliate.

Supermarkets will now have more time to prepare for life under the divorce deal’s Northern Ireland Protocol to avoid a hard border.

A grace period exempting trade between the UK and NI from some checks expires on March 31.

The Prime Minister said: “Some temporary operational easings [are] in order to protect the market in some areas such as food supplies pending further discussions with the European Union.”

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