(ANSA) – BRUSSELS, SEPTEMBER 22 – “Please friends of London, stop playing, time is running out and we need a realistic basis on which to negotiate”. This is the appeal launched to the British government by the German European Affairs Minister Michael Roth representing the EU presidency at the meeting of the General Affairs Council which is also taking stock of the Brexit negotiations.
“We are very disappointed and concerned” by Boris Johnson’s bill because, Roth said, it violates the principles of the Withdrawal Agreement and is totally unacceptable to us. On Monday 28 September, the EU-GB joint committee that deals with the technical aspects of the negotiation will meet again. (HANDLE).
“Restrictive measures unseen in peacetime were introduced in Europe to varying degrees in 2020, including service closures, borders, restrictions on the right of assembly and freedom of movement. This situation has had an immediate impact on a range of drug-related behaviors and drug supply, as well as on the provision of health care and some law enforcement activities, ”the report said.
Measures against the spread of coronavirus in the form of social welfare initially disrupted drug supplies to local markets and street sales, which increased the price of drugs. However, according to the report, this situation did not last long and with the relaxation of the measures, small-scale drug sales began to resume.
Consumers and dealers have also relocated to online markets, mainly on the normally inaccessible parts of Internet networks, the so-called darknet, and to social media, and have also started to use parcel delivery services. “It is possible that once these changes in behavior take hold, they will persist,” the report said.
The pandemic disrupted courier routes
The pandemic also appears to have disrupted the routes of couriers smuggling drugs by air or public transport. On the contrary, it had virtually no effect on maritime smuggling. It also does not appear to be seriously affected by the production of synthetic drugs and the cultivation of cannabis in Europe.
Initially, there were also signs of declining interest in drugs such as MDMA, known as ecstasy, or cocaine, which are most commonly used at social events that have been discontinued. On the other hand, there have been reports of an increase in interest in newer substances, such as benzodiazepines, which may have led to a shortage of more established drugs.
In some countries, more people may have sought help due to a drug outage. This put even more pressure on drug services, which at the beginning of the pandemic had to deal with how to continue operating within the constraints. They have succeeded, among other things, thanks to innovation, such as telemedicine.
The situation is still unstable, the authors say
“The subsequent relaxation or repeal of certain public health measures has created the conditions for a return to the pre-pandemic situation. However, at the time of writing, the situation remains unstable, “note the authors of the analysis. In general, according to them, a number of questions remain unanswered, such as whether and how quickly there will be a return to the situation that prevailed at the end of 2019.
In last year’s analysis, for example, the EMCDDA states that security forces in Europe are increasingly intercepting large shipments of drugs. The increase in the number of seizures of large quantities of cocaine or hashish transported by sea raises concerns about the infiltration of organized crime into legitimate supply chains, transport routes and large ports.
The report, which also records longer-term trends and the situation in previous years, further states that the importance of cocaine in Europe is growing, and at the same time its purity is increasing. In 2018, security forces seized the largest amount of this drug in history (181 tons). A year earlier it was 138 tons. Cocaine is still highly available on the European market and is becoming more common in countries where it was not previously common, such as Eastern Europe.
Cannabis is still the most commonly used drug
The EMCDDA also concludes that drug overdoses are increasingly linked to an aging population. Between 2012 and 2008, the number of overdoses in the age group over 50 increased by 75 percent. This suggests that this problem is increasingly associated with older and long-term users.
It is estimated that at least 8,300 people in the EU died from drug overdoses in 2018, a similar number died a year earlier. Most fatal overdoses are related to opioids, especially heroin.
Cannabis remains the most commonly used drug in Europe. And according to the EMCDDA, which has been monitoring the drug situation in Europe for 25 years, an estimated 96 million European adults have tried an illegal drug at least once in their lives.
From Monday, it will be mandatory to wear a veil at outdoor events, which will bring together more than 100 people. This applies with exceptions to Prague, Central Bohemia, the Zlín Region and the Cheb District. The regulation applies to events such as festivities, theater and film performances, sports and other gatherings. Exceptions will be children under two years of age, people with intellectual disabilities, actors, musicians, moderators and athletes during training or wrestling.
Renewed crisis staff
It will start on Monday to reopen the Central Crisis Staff, said Prime Minister Andrej Babiš. According to his renewal of the crisis staff, he complied with the call of the regions, and Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of the Interior Jan Hamáček (CSSD) is to take the lead again.
At the same time, the Prime Minister did not rule out the possibility that a state of emergency could be declared again in the Czech Republic. This would be the case if the Ministry of Health needed to declare some measure that it does not have competence under the Public Health Protection Act.
Deputy Olga Richterová (Pirates) praised the resumption of the crisis staff in Events and Comments, stating that the situation could not be managed logistically without the involvement of the army and police. “Believe that the trend is threatening,” she warned, calling for the promotion of the e-veil application. She criticized the government for its late response and poor communication.
MP David Kasal (YES) defended the cabinet, saying that it is not possible to expect such an increase exactly and that the government is responding sufficiently. According to him, the health system was well prepared for the situation.
Events, comments: Kasal and Richter on coronavirus
The number of hospitalized is also growing, visitors to Prague are banned
Hygienists have announced a ban on visits to all Prague medical facilities and social services. Valid from Friday 18 hours. The ban should last a month, Prague hygienists said.
Currently, there are 20,289 infected people in the Czech Republic, most of whom have a mild course of the disease. According to the latest available data from Wednesday, there are 413 people with infections in hospitals, 91 of whom are in a serious condition. Since Tuesday, the number of hospitalized patients has increased by 25 and severe cases by ten.
According to the Ministry of Health, hospitals can handle many times more patients with covid-19 than now, even in serious cases. The number of people who died with the covid is also increasing. There are a total of 489 victims, with four more deaths on Thursday.
The Czechia has ten times more cases of coronavirus per capita than Slovakia. In comparison with the states of the European Union, the Czech Republic is the third in this calculation in 14 days, only Spain and France are ahead of us.
Events: Testing for coronavirus in the Czech Republic
In a single day, tests showed an infection in 3,130 people on Thursday, which is a similar figure as for the entire month of March. The number of infected people also grew significantly last week, when the daily increase exceeded the 1,000 for the first time. Since then, with the exception of Sunday, more than a thousand confirmed diseases have been added daily. But more was tested.
The disease is spreading faster than in neighboring countries. Absolute numbers are higher in the Czech Republic than in the more populous Germany or Poland. It is the same when comparing values per million inhabitants.
Laboratories performed a record 22,271 tests on Thursday. Of these, 14 percent were positive. The share was higher only on March 10, when there were only 165 tests.
In August, the number of tests per day only exceeded 10,000, while last week the laboratories performed more than 15,000 tests every day from Tuesday to Thursday, a record 19,000 on Friday. On Wednesday, they managed 17,890 subscriptions. According to Minister Adam Vojtěch (for YES), the capacity of laboratories is 20,700 per day, the target is 25,000.
The disease is now most prevalent in Prague and the adjacent Central Bohemian districts, but also in the Kroměříž, southern Plzeň, Uherské Hradiště and Cheb regions. In the last seven days, hygienists in Prague confirmed 191 cases per 100,000 inhabitants, followed by Kroměříž with 171 cases, more than 150 infected per 100,000 inhabitants in the districts of Prague-East, Prague-West, Pilsen-South and Uherské Hradiště.
Distance learning at Prague universities
Distance learning will be introduced at universities in Prague next week. According to the risk of infection with the new coronavirus, Prague will have a red color on the map of regions, said Mayor Zdeněk Hřib (Pirates) on Twitter. According to Hřib, the city agreed on the measure with the hygienists. When exactly will be introduced, he did not say.
“At the moment, I have not been able to convince the hygiene that there are reasons for us to transfer to distance learning in high school,” the mayor of Prague told ČT24. He originally stated that distance learning would be introduced in secondary schools in the metropolis. “Hygiene wants to keep it in reserve and possibly reconsider it in the coming days,” the mayor added.
This week, Prague, together with hygienists, decided to wear veils even during classes. The Ministry of Health subsequently introduced them for the whole country from Friday. According to Thursday’s statement by the director of hygiene in Prague, Zdeněk Jágrová, 29 schools in the metropolis are affected by covid-19 and there are a total of thirty children and teachers who are positive.
New area measures
From September 10, due to the deteriorating epidemic situation, the obligation to wear a veil in the interior of buildings applies throughout the Czech Republic. Due to the growing number of infected and hospitalized, the state is introducing further general measures from Friday. Indoor mass standing events for more than ten people will be banned. Exceptions are exhibitions, markets and similar events. Pupils and teachers must wear veils even in classrooms with the exception of primary school. They will stay all over the country restaurants or bars closed between midnight and six o’clock in the morning.
CT correspondent Petr Obrovský on travel to Slovakia
People should follow the basic rules of hygiene, Minister Vojtěch urged them to be considerate and to limit participation in larger events as much as possible. According to the ministry, the most common places of infection are the family and the work environment, and a visit to social events, such as family celebrations and weddings, is also a risky activity. More than a fifth of recent cases have come from schools.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel is facing calls for Germany to withdraw from the new gas pipeline in response to an attempt to poison criticism of the Navalny Kremlin with the nerve-paralytic substance of the novices, which was discovered in the opposition’s body by Western experts.
Navalny, who fell into a coma while flying from Tomsk, Siberia to Moscow on August 20, is recovering at the Charité clinic in Berlin. The issue is also expected to be on the agenda of the forthcoming European Union summit.
“As for the gas pipeline, it is definitely necessary to stop mentioning it in connection with politics. It is a commercial project that is in the interest of both Russia and the countries of the European Union, especially Germany, “said Dmitry Peskov, spokesman for Russian President Vladimir Putin.
According to the Russian media, he reacted to the statement of the European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen in the European Parliament that the poisoning of Navalny is a typical example of Russian actions on the international scene and that no pipeline will change this Russian systemic approach.
Peskov emphasized that Moscow strongly disagreed with such a statement and that what had happened to the “Berlin patient” needed clarification. However, the investigation requires cooperation with Germany, which Russia is seeking, but has not yet “encountered a reciprocal approach.” Peskov rejected von der Leyen’s statement as a manifestation of bias and utter reluctance, conscious or unconscious, to understand reality.
Previously in the ruling bloc of the FRG CDU / CSU stated about the possibility of imposing sanctions against Russia, since the new data leaves no doubt about the poisoning of opposition leader Alexei Navalny with Novichok poison. The official representative of the parliamentary group on foreign policy Jurgen Hardt noted that Germany, together with other EU states, needs to formulate a position with respect to Russia, which does not exclude the introduction of limited measures, including against those persons involved in the incident with the politician.
In addition, in Germany resumed discussion of possible sanctions against the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline project. For example, the German Union 90 / Greens party demanded that the German government stop the construction of the gas pipeline due to the poisoning of the Russian oppositionist.
Read on RBC Pro
On the eve of the head of EU diplomacy Josep Borrell reportedthat the European Union is discussing the “assassination attempt” of Alexei Navalny. She recalled that in addition to the German laboratory, the politician’s poisoning with a substance from the Novichok group was confirmed by laboratories in France and Sweden. However, Russian doctors say they have not found traces of the poison in the politician’s body.
Answering the question, what should be the reaction of the West to what is happening in Belarus, Tsepkalo said that it would be “more than enough” if the EU countries introduced personal sanctions against Lukashenka and his family members.
The opposition politician recalled the precedent created in the American courts, when persons involved in torture and beatings could not carry out financial transactions through international payment systems.
Read on RBC Pro
“Any financial transactions of these people will be frozen. This will not only apply to foreign territory, but also to transactions with cards within the Republic of Belarus, ”explained Tsepkalo.
Mass protests in Belarus have been going on for over a month. In the early days, the authorities reported several thousand detainees and hundreds of victims. At least seven people were killed in clashes with security forces.
Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia imposed personal sanctions against Lukashenka and 29 other high-ranking citizens of the republic, declaring them persona non grata. The EU refused impose restrictions on the Belarusian leader because of the position of Germany and France, which considered that this would destroy diplomatic channels with Minsk.
Eurozone countries in August agreed impose sanctions on officials in charge of elections and those responsible for violence against demonstrators in Belarus. However, in September these measures blocked Cyprus, which demanded the inclusion in the sanctions list of seven Turkish companies conducting drilling operations on the disputed shelf area.
The United States has added 16 Belarusian officials to the sanctions list and promisedthat will expand it in the near future.
At a virtual summit on Monday, the EU urged China to further open its market to European companies if it is to reach a bilateral investment deal before the end of 2020, while expressing concerns over Hong Kong and the fate of the Uyghur Muslim minority.
Advance in investment and trade negotiations despite increasing tensions, especially on Hong Kong : a videoconference with strong economic and political stakes began on Monday 14 September between Charles Michel, the head of the European Council (which represents the 27 of the EU), Ursula von der Leyen, the President of the European Commission, Angela Merkel, the German Chancellor, and Xi Jinping, Chinese President.
Originally, this summit in Leipzig with the leaders of the 27 EU countries and their Chinese counterpart was to represent a highlight of the six months of the German EU presidency. But due to the pandemic, the meeting, now virtual, is being held in a reduced format.
On the menu of the discussions, which began shortly after 2 p.m. (12 p.m. GMT), according to a spokesperson: the thorny Sino-European agreement on investments, the conclusion of which by the end of the year is judged ” possible “by Beijing.
According to the Europeans, this investment agreement should allow their companies to be treated in the same way in China as Chinese companies are treated in the Union. The 27 demand better respect for intellectual property, an end to technology transfers imposed on foreign firms in China and excessive subsidies to Chinese public enterprises.
An expected trade agreement
Will this agreement be signed by December? “There is still a lot to do,” the President of the European Commission admitted to the press after the virtual meeting. “We are very serious about gaining access to the Chinese market and removing barriers,” said Ursula von der Leyen.
“Overall, cooperation with China must be based on certain principles – reciprocity, fair competition. We have different social systems, but if we are committed to multilateralism, it must be rules-based,” he said. side, the German Chancellor to the press from Berlin.
Invited on France 24, Antoine Bondaz, researcher at the Foundation for Strategic Research and specialist in China does not note “any really important progress”, except “some progress on questions of reciprocity”.
Sino-European bilateral trade represents more than a billion dollars a day. The EU is China’s main trading partner while the latter is the second largest market, behind the United States, for European goods and services.
It is not known what China’s response to European demands has been. There was no joint statement and Beijing’s reaction was not discussed at the press conference after the summit.
Another issue on the table, the climate: while the EU sets itself a carbon neutrality target for 2050, the Europeans want to push Beijing to beef up its ambitions by aiming for carbon neutrality in 2060, a peak in CO emissions2 from 2025 and by ceasing the construction of coal-fired power stations.
“China is a key partner in reducing global greenhouse gas emissions. The EU is raising the bar and counting on China to do the same,” commented Charles Michel.
According to Antoine Bondaz, the field of action of Europeans remains however very limited. “They have very few means of direct pressure” on Beijing, he said, adding that “China has not made any additional commitments compared to those it had made under the Paris agreements . “
“We reiterate our concerns about China’s treatment of minorities in Xinjiang and Tibet, as well as the fate of human rights defenders and journalists (…) one of the important points today is the proposal to conduct visits “of observers in the regions concerned, insisted Charles Michel.
For Antoine Bondaz, however, these observers “should be able to go where they want and in particular carry out a precise investigation into what is considered today as human rights violations”.
The Europeans expressed to Xi Jinping their persistent concerns over Hong Kong, where the application of a new security law constitutes, according to them, an attack on the freedoms of the semi-autonomous territory. The 27 had already decided to limit exports of equipment usable for surveillance and repression in Hong Kong.
This law “continues to fuel serious concerns (…) Democratic voices in Hong Kong must be heard, rights protected and autonomy preserved”, insisted Charles Michel.
“The second wave is here. There are still theoretical discussions here as to whether the first wave is still ending, or whether it is the second wave. In Austria, they have also declared that this is the second wave. I personally think that this is the second wave, “Prymula said on Czech Television.
According to Prymula, the announcement of the second wave is a formal matter, but the current situation can already be considered, the epidemiologist added. We are now seeing a higher increase in confirmed cases than in the first wave, and there was a delay between the current growth and the spring, he explained.
According to him, the same number of hospitalizations can be in hospitals in 14 days to three weeks as in the spring. Should the infection spread as explosively as before, hospitals could reach the capacity limits of reserved beds for patients with covid-19. If no measures were taken, Czech hospitals could be at the limit capacity at the end of October, he said.
At present, according to Prymula, it is necessary to “flatten” the infection curve. If this fails in about three weeks, the covid wards could reopen in hospitals, he added.
According to Prymula, there are no measures that would dramatically change the curve to immediately reduce the number of diseases. However, it is clear that short-range air transmission dominates. He described Prymul as the singing of people side by side. Therefore, people should avoid celebrations for at least a month in order to reduce the growing curve of those infected.
In trends, the Czechia is almost the worst in Europe, warns Prymula
The increase in confirmed cases of covid-19 accelerated in the Czech Republic over the weekend. On Saturday, the country saw a record 1,541 infections, which is almost 100 more than on Friday. On days off, laboratories tend to test less. The Ministry of Health will publish Saturday’s number of tests on Sunday evening.
According to the number of cases in 14 days per 100 thousand inhabitants, the Czechia is the third most affected country in the EU, the situation is worse only in Spain and France.
According to Prymula, the Czechia wasted the spring culture of wearing veils. “As we were in the best starting position, today I dare say that Spain is doing better than us. Because Spain today has high numbers, but in a descending trajectory. We’re heading up. It doesn’t just matter the number, but the trends, “he said. In trends, the Czechia is almost the worst in Europe, he added.
Shonka: The increase in cases is reflected in the workload of general practitioners
The high increase in cases is reflected in the workload of general practitioners, said Petr Šonka, chairman of the Association of General Practitioners, who was also a guest of Václav Moravec’s Questions.
“GPs now bear the brunt of the increase, as most patients turn to us, sending them for testing, of course, that means a waste of time and affects the operation of our surgeries, because it’s at the expense of preventive care and other things,” he says. Shonka.
According to him, the situation is complicated by the fact that hygienic stations are not catching up. “Hats off before colleagues perform at hygienic stations. But from what we see daily in the field and in contact with them, it is evident that they are at the limit of their capacities. We have information from patients that their hygiene is not heard until the fifth of the sixth day after contact, “said the chairman of the Association of General Practitioners.
Tests of saliva will increase capacity, said Prymula
In Václav Moravec’s Questions, Roman Prymula stated that the capacity for coronavirus testing could be doubled by 40 October to 40,000 tests per day. Within a few weeks, new saliva rapid tests, the so-called LAMP tests, should be launched on the market, which will expand the existing range.
At present, up to 18,500 tests are performed daily in the Czech Republic. With the involvement of academia, it is currently possible to reach a testing capacity of 20,000 tests per day, says Prymula.
The infection is now detected in the Czech Republic by nasopharyngeal swabs. In October, saliva tests should be available in the Czech Republic, for which the result should be known in approximately 45 minutes. Now people have a result within 48 hours. Saliva tests have long been used in other diseases.
According to Prymula, new tests can also be significantly cheaper. For the current test, the Ministry of Health set a maximum price of 1,674 crowns and 82 crowns for consumption. “It is absolutely desirable for those tests to fall in price. Now will be a truly unique opportunity during October to succeed, “said Prymula.
LAMP-tests could be half cheaper, other tests should be available at a lower price than the current one.
The necessary quarantine period was also a topic of debate. Previously it had to be observed for two weeks, now ten days are enough in the Czech Republic. The incubation time varies according to Prymula. It is currently three to five days. On the tenth day, about 2.5 percent of those infected can be infectious; in the case of seven days, according to Prymul, it is about 20 percent infected. So if the quarantine was reduced to seven, or even five days, it would be high risk.
NEW YORK (Reuters) – The dollar weakened and world stock markets rallied on Monday on encouraging signs of progress in developing a COVID-19 vaccine, while several multi-billion dollar deals also helped lift the spirit of investors after the downdraft in the past two weeks.
Gold jumped almost 1% as the dollar slid and bond yields were stable as investors gauge how the U.S. Federal Reserve will put its new approach to monetary policy into practice and keep its dovish stance at this week’s policy meeting.
Pfizer Inc and BioNTech SE on Saturday proposed expanding their Phase 3 COVID-19 vaccine trial to about 44,000 participants, while increasing the diversity of the trial population.
Drugmaker AstraZeneca also said on Saturday it has resumed British clinical trials of its COVID-19 vaccine, one of the most advanced in development, after getting the green light from safety watchdogs.
Enrollment of new patients and other trial procedures for AstraZeneca’s pivotal U.S. trial were being rescheduled until at least midweek and it was not clear how long it would take for a U.S. investigators to complete a probe, sources told Reuters.
“The market reacts positively to any vaccine news,” said Tim Ghriskey, chief investment strategist at Inverness Counsel in New York. “We’re going to see a lot more vaccines come out, and that is what really is helping the markets.”
The World Health Organization reported a record one-day increase in global coronavirus cases on Sunday, with the total rising by 307,930 in 24 hours. The biggest increases were from India, the United States and Brazil.
“There is still some caution in markets because U.S. virus numbers appear to be picking up again in some states,” said Seema Shah, chief strategist at Principal Global Investors.
“The vaccine news is positive but there is a lot of skepticism about when they become widely adopted,” Shah said.
Plans by Nvidia Corp to buy British-based chip designer Arm from Japan’s SoftBank Group Corp for as much as $40 billion, a deal expected to reshape the global semiconductor landscape, also drove sentiment. Nvidia shares, which have more than doubled this year, added 5.8%.
Oracle surged 4.3% as the cloud services company said it would team up with China’s ByteDance to keep TikTok operating in the United States, beating Microsoft Corp in a deal structured as a partnership rather than an outright sale.
MSCI’s benchmark for global equity markets rose 1.17% to 572.57. In Europe, the broad FTSEurofirst 300 index edged up 0.07% to 1,429 as losses in the energy sector offset surging travel and technology stocks that were boosted by the vaccine news.
On Wall Street, the Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 1.18%, the S&P 500 gained 1.27% and the Nasdaq Composite added 1.87% after plunging 10% into corrective territory on Friday from a record closing high on Sept. 2.
U.S. stocks had notched two straight weeks of losses as investors sold the technology shares that fueled the benchmark S&P 500 and Nasdaq to record highs in a dramatic recovery from March lows spawned by the pandemic-induced downturn.
Overnight in Asia, MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan rose 0.9% to its highest in almost a week. Japan’s Nikkei firmed 0.7% after Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga won a landslide victory in a ruling party leadership election, paving the way for him to succeed Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.
The Fed starts a two-day policy meeting on Tuesday, the first since unveiling a landmark shift to a more tolerant stance on inflation in August. The Bank of Japan and the Bank of England announce their respective policy decisions on Thursday.
Sterling, which has been hurt by renewed Brexit turmoil, firmed before a vote on British Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s plan to break international law by breaching parts of the Brexit divorce treaty with the European Union.
Sterling was last trading at $1.2855, up 0.48% on the day, while the dollar index fell 0.22%.
The euro was up 0.15% to $1.1863, and the Japanese yen strengthened 0.48% versus the greenback at 105.70 per dollar.
Turkey’s lira set a record low against the U.S. dollar and its dollar bonds came under pressure after Moody’s cut the country’s sovereign rating and warned of the risk of a balance of payment crisis.
The 10-year U.S. Treasury note rose 0.7 basis points to 0.6739%.
Oil prices slipped slightly on concerns about a stalled global economic recovery as Libya is poised to resume production, and failed to get support from an impending storm that has disrupted U.S. oil output.
Brent crude futures settled down 22 cents at $39.61 a barrel. U.S. crude futures fell 7 cents to settle at $37.26 a barrel.
U.S. gold futures settled up 0.8% at $1,963.70 an ounce.
Reporting by Herb Lash; additional reproting by Dhara Ranasinghe; Editing by Dan Grebler, Nick Zieminski and Will Dunham
LONDON (Reuters) – Former prime ministers Tony Blair and John Major said on Sunday Britain must drop a “shocking” plan to pass legislation that breaks its divorce treaty with the European Union, in a breach of international law.
The British government said explicitly last week that it plans to break international law by breaching parts of the Withdrawal Agreement treaty that it signed in January, when it formally left the EU.
“What is being proposed now is shocking,” Major and Blair, who were adversaries in the 1990s as Conservative and Labour leaders, wrote in a joint letter published by the Sunday Times newspaper.
“How can it be compatible with the codes of conduct that bind ministers, law officers and civil servants deliberately to break treaty obligations?”
Theresa May, the predecessor of current Prime Minister Boris Johnson, has also questioned whether international partners would be able to trust Britain in future.
Johnson’s Internal Market Bill is aimed at ensuring Britain’s four constituent nations can trade freely with one another after leaving the EU, but the government says that requires overriding part of the withdrawal treaty it signed with Brussels.
British ministers say the bill is a “safety net” in the event there is no trade deal reached with the bloc, but top EU officials say it undermines both the withdrawal treaty and trust in future talks.
KEEPING THE PEACE
EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier said on Sunday that the Withdrawal Agreement on Northern Ireland “is not a threat to the integrity of the UK”, and had been agreed by the two sides to protect peace on the island of Ireland.
“We could not have been clearer about the consequences of Brexit,” Barnier said on Twitter.
His British counterpart David Frost responded by saying London had to reserve powers in the new bill in order to keep the peace in Ireland.
Keir Starmer, leader of the opposition Labour Party, described the legislation as wrong on Sunday.
“We have broken the trust of our international partners,” Starmer wrote in the Sunday Telegraph newspaper, adding that his party would oppose the bill in parliament unless changes were made.
European lawmakers have warned they would not approve any new trade deal unless the withdrawal agreement was fully implemented, while there is also talk of possible legal action.
“The reputation of the UK … as a trusted negotiating partner on important issues like this is being damaged in a very serious way,” Irish foreign minister Simon Coveney told the BBC on Sunday.
Reporting by Andy Bruce, additional reporting by Kate Abnett in Brussels; editing by Emelia Sithole-Matarise