BRUSSELS is planning to threaten Boris Johnson with huge “lump sum” fines unless he scraps plans to rewrite the Brexit deal, according to internal papers seen by Express.co.uk.
The leaked dossier, drawn up by the EU Commission, revealed the bloc is planning to sue the Government at the European Court of Justice over an alleged breach of international law. The bloc hopes its threats to slap Britain with fines and trade sanctions will dissuade the Prime Minister from ripping up last year’s EU Withdrawal Agreement. Eurocrats are planning to trigger legal proceedings immediately in the hope MPs and Peers will vote down the Government’s Internal Market Bill when it passes through Parliament.
And European diplomats and officials were also told to openly criticise Downing Street after the publication of the legislation sparked a furious row.
An analysis by EU lawyers claimed the move to hand ministers powers to overrule EU customs checks and state aid rules for Northern Ireland is “in violation” of the Brexit deal.
They insist No 10’s proposed law is a “clear breach of substantive provisions” of the Irish border fix and the “good faith obligation” agreed in last year’s divorce deal.
In response to the Government’s plans to fast-track the legislation through Parliament, the legal advice said the EU could sue Britain before the Bill is passed.
“Even before the bill is adopted, it could be defendable to bring infringement proceedings,” the document says.
It goes on: “The Withdrawal Agreement has entered into force on February 1, 2020, and has legal effects under international law.
“Since then, no party can unilaterally change, clarify, amend or misapply it anymore.”
If No 10 refuses to scrap or amend the legislation, eurocrats will ask the ECJ to rule on whether the terms of the Brexit deal have been breached.
The dossier states the Luxembourg-based court could opt to slap Britain with massive fines or even cut ties in key areas such as financial services or data sharing.
“The Court of Justice has full powers as provided for under the Treaties, including the possibility to impose a lump sum or penalty payment on the State that has not taken the necessary measures to comply with the ruling of the Court establishing the breach,” the legal advice says.
And “in case of non-payment or persisting non-compliance” from the UK, the bloc could decide on further sanctions.
According to the dossier, this could include “suspending its obligations arising form the Withdrawal Agreement or from future EU/UK agreement”.
The bloc’s lawyers even looked into ending the post-Brexit transition period early, but conceded “given the length of the pre-litigation phase, it is unlikely the case against the UK can be brought to the Court before the end of the year”.
“However, infringement procedures for facts occurred before the end of the transition period can be brought to the Court during four years after the end of the transition,” the document adds.
European capitals have already urged the Commission to apply maximum pressure on Downing Street to amend of scrap the legislation.
An EU diplomat said: “Capitals will now study the law. Should it be found to contravene the Withdrawal Agreement and remain intact after parliamentary scrutiny the appropriate procedures in the divorce deal will apply.”
A “lines to take” script was also circulated to diplomats from the 27 EU nations, ordering them to rubbish the Downing Street legislation.
Mr Johnson has defended his plans as a “safety net” to ensure unfettered access within the four parts of the United Kingdom after the transition period expires at the end of the year.
But diplomats were advised “the draft Bill deposited by the UK Government raises serious concerns”.
The note goes on: “It casts doubt as to the Government’s commitment to abide by its obligations under the Withdrawal Agreement and to fully implement it.
“The Union will take all appropriate measures to ensure the full implementation of the Withdrawal Agreement.”
Responding to the document, the Prime Minister’s spokesman said: “I’ve no detail on that so there’s nothing for me to comment upon.
“We remain committed to implementing the Northern Ireland Protocol and to the Joint Committee process. We hope that we will reach an agreement within that framework.”