The EU has reportedly threatened the UK with economic, agricultural and trade sanctions if ministers refuse to back down from their plans to abandon parts of the Brexit withdrawal agreement.
The EU’s chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier hinted that the bloc could ban imports of British food and livestock when the transition period ends.
Recently, Barnier said that the UK government had “not engaged” on issues of “fundamental” importance to the EU and claimed that that there were still “many uncertainties” about the UK’s new food standards that could lead the EU to ban all imports of UK produce starting from 1 January.
“More clarity is needed for the EU to do the assessment for the third-country listing of the UK,” he said, as quoted by The Times.
“The UK is refusing to include indispensable guarantees of fair competition in our future agreement, while requesting free access to our market. We are still missing important guarantees on non-regression from social, environmental, labour and climate standards,” he added.
In turn, UK lead Brexit trade talks negotiator Lord David Frost denied that Britain was to blame for the deadlock.
“We have been consistently clear from the start of this process about the basis on which agreement is possible between us,” he said.
The differences still remain on such areas as access to markets and dispute settlement mechanisms, he said, adding that the UK must offer the EU guarantees and clarity on many issues.
Concerns over possible violations of the Brexit deal arose after UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson introduced the Internal Market Bill to the UK Parliament earlier this week. The bill, which seeks to ensure barrier-free trade between the United Kingdom’s four constituent nations, would violate substantive provisions of the Brexit Deal’s Northern Ireland Protocol on customs legislation and state aid if adopted.
Earlier this week, Northern Ireland Secretary Brandon Lewis told Parliament that the proposed bill would “break international law in a very specific and limited way” by amending the Brexit deal with the EU and removing its precedence in state aid and customs checks.
The UK left the European Union in January but remains subject to current EU trade terms. However, if no trade deal is secured before the so-called transition period expires on 31 December, the World Trade Organisation’s rules for both parties will come into effect starting in 2021, including customs tariffs and full border checks for UK goods entering the European area.