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The European Commission said it would haul Boris Johnson before the European Court of Justice unless Downing Street agrees to the changes. The UK is currently obliged to follow the EU’s rulebook before its transition from the bloc ends on December 31. In its monthly round-up of legal action, the Commission said: “The Commission decided today to send a reasoned opinion to the United Kingdom for failing to effectively remove from its legal order the Bilateral Investment Treaties to which it is contracting party alongside EU Member States.
“It has been the Commission’s long-standing position that BITs between EU Member States overlap and conflict with EU law.”
The statement added: “The Commission urges the United Kingdom to take all necessary actions to imminently remove its BITs with EU Member States from its legal order.
“Without a satisfactory response from the United Kingdom within the next two months, the Commission may decide to refer the case to the Court of Justice of the European Union.
“Under the EU-UK Withdrawal Agreement, the United Kingdom is still bound by Union law during the transition period and the Commission is competent to launch an infringement procedure against it for any failure to fulfil an obligation under the EU Treaties that takes place before the end of that period.”
A majority of European capitals last month agreed to scrap intra-EU bilateral treaties.
Austria, Finland, Ireland and Sweden refused to support the move, and Britain was left without a say after leaving the bloc in January.
Bilateral Investment Agreements are signed between two countries to promote and protect private investments made in each other’s territory.
And the row over the Internal Market Bill, which hands ministers power to overwrite sections of last year’s Withdrawal Agreement, also rumbles on.
Downing Street ignored the latest deadline to reply to a letter from Commission President Ursula von der Leyen by the end of the month.
The feud threatened to derail the Brexit trade talks, but EU officials have decided to continue with the negotiations and legal action separately.
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A Government spokesman said: “We are committed to working through the Joint Committee process to find a satisfactory outcome for both sides.
“That is our overriding priority. We will respond to the next stages of this process in due course, as required.”
Meanwhile trade talks continue between Lord Frost, the Prime Minister’s Brexit envoy, and EU counterpart Michel Barnier in Brussels.
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Talks are expected to run until Wednesday or Thursday before both sides make a decision on how to move forward.
Mrs von der Leyen last week claimed the wrangling over a post-Brexit deal was progressing well.
Sources have claimed mid-November remains the final deadline for an agreement in order to begin the ratification process.
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