EU leader Ursula von der Leyen warned Monday that Britain is legally obliged to respect the Brexit withdrawal agreement, which must form the basis of bilateral relations going forward.
“I trust the British government to implement the Withdrawal Agreement, an obligation under international law and prerequisite for any future partnership,” the president of the European Commission said.
Von der Leyen issued her warning after The Financial Times reported that Prime Minister Boris Johnson is planning legislation to override parts of the withdrawal treaty that Britain and the EU agreed last year.
The report cited three people close to the plans as saying a bill to be put before parliament this week would undermine agreements relating to Northern Ireland customs and state aid.
In response, Downing Street said only that it was still “working hard to resolve outstanding issues with the Northern Ireland Protocol” but was considering “fall-back options”.
But Von Der Leyen warned that, in Brussels’ view, the clause — which would see the British province continue to follow some EU rules while maintaining an open border with Ireland — is essential.
The protocol on Ireland and Northern Ireland, she tweeted, “is essential to protect peace and stability on the island and the integrity of the single market.”