The EU has expressed its anger over the backing given by MPs for legislation overriding post-Brexit arrangements for Northern Ireland by launching a further four legal cases against the UK government.
The claims concern past failures to implement the 2019 deal agreed with Boris Johnson but the EU has been spurred to act by the passage through parliament of a bill that would rip up current arrangements.
On Wednesday, the Northern Ireland protocol bill cleared the House of Commons at its third reading – the final stage in the Commons – by 267 votes to 195, and will arrive at the Lords in the autumn.
The four new legal cases – which cite a failure to enforce EU customs and VAT, and excise rules – come on top of three other cases already in motion that are heading to judgment by the European court of justice.
The EU court has the power to impose multimillion-euro daily fines on the UK and its judgments could be the first step towards the bloc taking punitive action through mechanisms within the Brexit deals.
Maroš efčovič, the EU’s Brexit commissioner, has not ruled out tariffs being imposed on British goods sold into the EU, describing the terms of the Northern Ireland protocol bill as “illegal”.
In a statement on Friday, the commission said it was taking the legal action partly in light of “the continued passage of the Northern Ireland protocol bill through the UK parliament”, which was said to “go directly against” a spirit of seeking joint solutions to current issues.
A spokesman for the UK government, which has been given two months to respond to the latest claims said the legal action from Brussels was unnecessary.
“It is disappointing to see that the EU has chosen to bring forward further legal