European Commission Vice President Maros Sefcovic is set to hold crisis talks in London on Thursday after Britain announced a plan to override part of its EU withdrawal agreement.
Agency reports indicated that Britain’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson remained defiant on Wednesday, in spite of strong criticism of the plan by EU leaders, British opposition lawmakers and two former prime ministers from his conservative party.
Johnson wants to override a provision in the agreement that would impose certain post-Brexit customs rules on Northern Ireland, different from those on the rest of the United Kingdom.
That provision was designed to avoid a hard border between Northern Ireland — which is leaving the EU as part of the United Kingdom — and the Republic of Ireland, an EU member state.
Sefcovic is scheduled to meet Michael Gove, Johnson’s cabinet chief and senior Brexit minister.
“The EU seeks clarifications from the UK on the full and timely implementation of the withdrawal agreement,” said European Commission spokesman Eric Manner in a tweet on Sefcovic’s visit.
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen on Wednesday said that she was “very concerned” that Britain’s potential breach of the withdrawal agreement would “undermine trust” between the two sides.
Britain formally left the EU in January and entered a transition period until the end of the year, during which it still belongs to the EU single market and customs union.
Talks have continued this week on post-Brexit trade arrangements but negotiations appear to have reached an impasse.