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Dispute Settlement - EU and the Court of Justice

For matters concerning the implementation of applicable EU law, standard EU procedures apply. 

According to Article 12(4) of the Protocol on Ireland/Northern Ireland, 'the institutions, bodies, offices, and agencies of the Union shall in relation to the United Kingdom and natural and legal persons residing or established in the territory of the United Kingdom have the powers conferred upon them by Union law.'

Infringement proceedings may therefore be brought against the UK. Ultimately the matter may be referred to the Court of Justice of the EU and a financial penalty applied

To date the EU has twice initiating infringement proceedings against the UK in relation to the Protocol.

On the first occasion, the EU acted in response to the UK government tabling its UK Internal Market Bill and in doing so acknowledging it would be in breach of its obligations under the Withdrawal Agreement. The European Commission issued a letter of formal notice on 1 October 2020. With the UK eventually removing the offending clauses from the UK Internal Market Bill, the proceedings against it were dropped.

The second occasion was in response to the UK non-implementation of applicable EU law relating to the free movement of goods and pet travel. A letter of formal notice was issued on 15 March 2021 and the process is ongoing.

As the Protocol is part of EU law, it also falls under the scope of EU judicial review procedures. The legality of EU acts can therefore be challenged if they are considered to be in breach of the . For example, an annulment action was recently filed concerning the European Commission’s aborted plan to apply Covid vaccine export restrictions to Northern Ireland.