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EU taking UK to court over failure to nominate official

By EARLE GALE | China Daily Global | Updated: 2019-11-18 09:30

Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson waves ahead of boarding his general election campaign trail bus in Manchester on Friday. [FRANK AUGSTEIN/AP]

Bloc says Britain's pending exit not an excuse for failing to meet obligations

The European Union's commission has launched legal action against the United Kingdom that could land British taxpayers with a hefty fine.

The suit, which the EU began on Thursday, claims the UK should have put forward the name of a person to serve as the nation's representative on the European Commission.

However, the UK has reportedly questioned whether such an appointment is necessary, given that the nation is scheduled to leave the bloc in the coming weeks.

The commission said in a statement:"The European Commission has … sent a letter of formal notice to the United Kingdom for breaching its EU treaty obligations by not suggesting a candidate for the post of EU commissioner."

The commission, which comprises 28 people representing the 28 member nations, wants the UK to respond to the charge by Friday, Reuters reported on Sunday.

The Guardian newspaper said Prime Minister Boris Johnson had sent a letter to the EU on Wednesday evening, a few hours before the legal challenge was launched, claiming he could not suggest a candidate because of strict rules that govern political appointments in the lead-up to a general election.

Julian King, the UK's former ambassador to Ireland and France, had been serving as the nation's representative but his term is now ending. The recently appointed president of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, wants to have a new executive team in place by Dec 1 but British voters are set to choose a new government on Dec 12 and Parliament has been stood down.

The next UK government, whether it is led by Johnson or one of his political rivals, will immediately have to defend itself in the European court of justice.

The period around the UK's general election is likely to be busy, especially now that Buckingham Palace has confirmed the queen will host United States President Donald Trump and his wife at a reception in early December.

The Times newspaper says Trump will visit the UK between Dec 2 and Dec 4 for a NATO meeting and to visit to the queen. The Telegraph newspaper noted that it will be the second time Trump and the queen have met in an official capacity this year.

A White House spokesman said: "President Trump looks forward to meeting with the other NATO heads of state and government to review the alliance's unprecedented progress on burden-sharing, including adding more than $100 billion in new defense spending since 2016."

The visit falls a mere 10 days before the UK election and Johnson will likely be hoping that the visit of his powerful friend will help secure him votes in the election, which his party hopes to win in order to secure a majority that would allow it to navigate the UK's exit from the EU without being fettered by the British Parliament.

Johnson has said all of his Conservative Party's candidates are committed to ensuring the Brexit deal he negotiated with the EU becomes a reality. He told the Sunday Telegraph all have pledged their loyalty.

"All 635 Conservative candidates standing at this election - every single one of them- has pledged to me that, if elected, they will vote in Parliament to pass my Brexit deal, so we can end the uncertainty and finally leave the EU," he said.

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