26th Sep 2022

EU warns Truss to stick to Brexit deal

  • New British PM and Liz Truss and EU commissioner Maroš Šefčovič earlier this year during post-Brexit talks in Brussels (Photo: European Commission)
Listen to article

EU top officials on Monday (5 September) warned Liz Truss, the newly-chosen UK prime minister, to stick to the EU-UK agreement on Northern Ireland, just hours after she was elected by her Conservative party members.

The former foreign minister was the one who introduced Northern Ireland protocol bill in the UK parliament earlier this year, which would allow the government in London to abandon parts of the protocol, in breach of its divorce agreement with the EU.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Become an expert on Europe

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

Truss beat former finance minister Rishi Sunak after a divisive leadership contest over the summer, in which only the circa. 180,000 Conservative Party members had a vote.

The foreign secretary won 81,326 votes (57.4 percent) of the vote byTory members, while the former chancellor received 60,399 votes (42.6 percent).

EU Commission president Ursula von der Leyen reiterated that the EU and the UK are partners when quickly congratulating Truss on Twitter.

"We face many challenges together, from climate change to Russia's invasion of Ukraine," von der Leyen said.

The EU is keen to watch how Truss will handle the post-Brexit trade relations in Northern Ireland, which are governed by the mutually-agreed protocol. The EU has already launched legal proceedings for the UK's breaches of the Brexit agreement.

"I look forward to a constructive relationship, in full respect of our agreements," von der Leyen added, referring to that divorce deal.

The commissioner in charge of negotiations with the UK over Northern Ireland, Maroš Šefčovič, also congratulated Truss.

"A positive EU-UK relationship is of great strategic importance. I stand ready to work intensively and constructively with my new UK interlocutor to foster such a partnership, in full respect of our agreements," he tweeted.

EU foreign affairs chief Josep Borrell also emphasised the need for "full compliance of the Brexit agreement".

There has been irritation in Brussels at Truss' frequent EU-bashing during the summer campaign, against the backdrop of Russia's war against Ukraine.

It also rang alarm bells across European capitals when, during a public campaign event last month, Truss was asked whether French president Emmanuel Macron was a "friend or foe" of Britain, and Truss replied: "The jury's out."

Her compere said it was a "joke", but it underlined the sour relations between Paris and London.

Fighting reality

Truss takes over from Boris Johnson, who was ousted by his own MPs earlier this summer.

Truss, 47, will become the Conservatives' fourth prime minister since a 2015 election, and the third female prime minister of the UK — following Margaret Thatcher, and Theresa May.

"I will deliver a bold plan to cut taxes and grow our economy" she told her supporters as her victory speech.

"I will deliver on the energy crisis, dealing with people's energy bills, but also dealing with the long-term issues we have on energy supply, she added without going into detail.

The UK faces a long recession triggered by steep inflation which hit 10.1 percent in July.

The Bank of England expects that inflation will reach a 42-year high of 13.3 percent in October.

The average annual household utility bills are set to jump by 80 percent in October, the country's energy regulator said last Friday, following a record 54-percent spike in April.

Truss also hinted during the campaign at reviewing the mandate of the Bank of England, which prompted investors to get rid of government bonds, hitting the pound.

The leader of the Labour party opposition, Keir Starmer, described Truss as "out of touch", saying the new prime minister talked about tax cuts, but not about the cost-of-living crisis.

Truss also said the general election would not be until 2024.

Truss is expected deliver another speech on Tuesday afternoon, this time in front of 10 Downing Street, her first formally as prime minister, after her audience with the Queen.

Johnson quits, leaving Brexit headaches to successor

British prime minister Boris Johnson has resigned as Conservative party leader, starting a race among Conservative MPs to replace him as prime minister but leaving a range of issues — Brexit, Northern Ireland, and Scottish independence — for his successor.

EU takes legal action against UK over post-Brexit trade

"Let's call a spade a spade, this is illegal," EU commission vice-president Maroš Šefčovič said on the UK's move to introduce legislation suspending parts of the Northern Ireland protocol, as the commission launched several probes against London.

UK shows 'bad faith' in post-Brexit talks, Irish PM says

"It is perfectly reasonable to look for ways to improve the operation of the protocol, but unfortunately what we have seen are bad-faith efforts to undermine a treaty freely entered into," Irish premier Michael Martin told MEPs.


How to apply the Nuremberg model for Russian war crimes

A Special Tribunal on Russian war crimes in Ukraine must be convened, because no permanent or existing international judicial institution is endowed with jurisdiction over Russian high-ranking officials, writes the head of the Ukraine delegation to the Council of Europe.


Losing on the Ukrainian battlefield will not unseat Putin

Notwithstanding the remarkable Ukrainian advances, a Russian defeat would not necessarily translate into regime change in Moscow. It is likely Putin will try to spin his military setbacks as evidence of the existential threat facing Russia.

News in Brief

  1. Confirmed: EU drops call for 'independent' Abu Akleh probe
  2. EU plan to stop firework abuse in football stadiums
  3. More Russians now crossing Finnish land border
  4. Report: EU to propose €584bn energy grid upgrade plan
  5. Morocco snubs Left MEPs probing asylum-seeker deaths
  6. EU urges calm after Putin's nuclear threat
  7. Council of Europe rejects Ukraine 'at gunpoint' referendums
  8. Lithuania raises army alert level after Russia's military call-up

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. UNESDA - Soft Drinks EuropeCall for EU action – SMEs in the beverage industry call for fairer access to recycled material
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic prime ministers: “We will deepen co-operation on defence”
  3. EFBWW – EFBH – FETBBConstruction workers can check wages and working conditions in 36 countries
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic and Canadian ministers join forces to combat harmful content online
  5. European Centre for Press and Media FreedomEuropean Anti-SLAPP Conference 2022
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic ministers write to EU about new food labelling

Latest News

  1. 'Grazie Italia': Far-right wins power in Rome
  2. How the EU is failing to help the hippo
  3. Germany sued over air pollution levels
  4. Meloni mood and energy in focus This WEEK
  5. Ireland joins EU hawks on Russia, as outrage spreads
  6. Editor's weekly digest: Plea for support edition
  7. Investors in renewables face uncertainty due to EU profits cap
  8. How to apply the Nuremberg model for Russian war crimes

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us