Tag Archives: Treaty

EU-UK Withdrawal Agreement in jeopardy

Following the publication by the UK government of the draft “United Kingdom Internal Market Bill” on 9 September 2020, Vice-President Maroš Šefčovič called for an extraordinary meeting of the EU-UK Joint Committee to request the UK government to elaborate on its intentions and to respond to the EU’s serious concerns. A meeting took place today in London between Vice-President Maroš Šefčovič and Michael Gove, Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster.

The Vice-President stated, in no uncertain terms, that the timely and full implementation of the Withdrawal Agreement, including the Protocol on Ireland / Northern Ireland – which Prime Minister Boris Johnson and his government agreed to, and which the UK Houses of Parliament ratified, less than a year ago – is a legal obligation. The European Union expects the letter and spirit of this Agreement to be fully respected. Violating the terms of the Withdrawal Agreement would break international law, undermine trust and put at risk the ongoing future relationship negotiations.

The Withdrawal Agreement entered into force on 1 February 2020 and has legal effects under international law. Since that point in time, neither the EU nor the UK can unilaterally change, clarify, amend, interpret, disregard or disapply the agreement. The Protocol on Ireland / Northern Ireland is an essential part of the Withdrawal Agreement. Its aim is to protect peace and stability on the island of Ireland and was the result of long, detailed and difficult negotiations between the EU and the UK.

Vice-President Maroš Šefčovič stated that if the Bill were to be adopted, it would constitute an extremely serious violation of the Withdrawal Agreement and of international law.

If adopted as proposed, the draft bill would be in clear breach of substantive provisions of the Protocol: Article 5 (3) & (4) and Article 10 on custom legislation and State aid, including amongst other things, the direct effect of the Withdrawal Agreement (Article 4). In addition, the UK government would be in violation of the good faith obligation under the Withdrawal Agreement (Article 5) as the draft Bill jeopardises the attainment of the objectives of the Agreement.

The EU does not accept the argument that the aim of the draft Bill is to protect the Good Friday (Belfast) Agreement. In fact, it is of the view that it does the opposite.

Vice-President Maroš Šefčovič called on the UK government to withdraw these measures from the draft Bill in the shortest time possible and in any case by the end of the month. He stated that by putting forward this Bill, the UK has seriously damaged trust between the EU and the UK. It is now up to the UK government to re-establish that trust.

He reminded the UK government that the Withdrawal Agreement contains a number of mechanisms and legal remedies to address violations of the legal obligations contained in the text – which the European Union will not be shy in using.

Stoltenberg calls Russia to respect Open Sky

NATO Allies met today to discuss the Open Skies Treaty.

“We are firmly committed to the preservation of effective international arms control, disarmament, and non-proliferation. We all agree that all states party to the Open Skies Treaty must fully implement their commitments and obligations. All NATO Allies are in full compliance with all provisions of the Treaty”.

“Russia has for many years imposed flight restrictions inconsistent with the Treaty, including flight limitations over Kaliningrad, and restricting flights in Russia near its border with Georgia. Russia’s ongoing selective implementation of its obligations under the Open Skies Treaty has undermined the contribution of this important Treaty to security and stability in the Euro-Atlantic region.

“Allies have called on Russia to return to full compliance of the Treaty since the Wales Summit in 2014, and repeated that call at the Warsaw Summit in 2016 and again at the Brussels Summit in 2018. The United States has declared Russia in violation of the Treaty, and has now announced its intention to withdraw from the Treaty in six months, consistent with Treaty provisions. The US has declared that it may, however, reconsider its withdrawal should Russia return to full compliance with the Treaty.

“NATO Allies and partner nations have engaged with Russia, both in capitals and at the OSCE in Vienna, to seek Russia’s return to compliance at the earliest date possible. Russia’s return to compliance is the best way to preserve the benefits of the Treaty.

“NATO Allies will continue to uphold, support, and further strengthen arms control, disarmament, and non-proliferation, as a key element of Euro-Atlantic security, taking into account the prevailing security environment. Allies also remain open to dialogue in the NATO-Russia Council on risk reduction and transparency. We continue to aspire to a constructive relationship with Russia, when Russia’s actions make that possible”.

Europe regrets US Open Sky withdrawal

“I regret the announcement by the United States to withdraw from the Open Skies Treaty. The Treaty on Open Skies is a key element of our arms-control architecture and serves as a vital confidence and security-building measure” says the statement by the EU top diplomat Josep Borrell on the announcement by the US on their withdrawal from the Open Sky Treaty.

“Since it came into force in 2002, this agreement has enabled to carry out more than 1.500 reconnaissance missions over the territories of all the signatory states.The treaty provides transparency and predictability. It is an important contribution to European and global security and stability. All State parties must continue to acknowledge this and ensure the full implementation of the Treaty. Withdrawing from a Treaty is not the solution to address difficulties in its implementation and compliance by another party. While continuing to urge Russia to return immediately to the full implementation of the Treaty, I call upon the United States to reconsider their decision.The European Union will be examining the implications this decision may have for its own security”.

Moscow rejects the United States’ ultimatums concerning the Treaty on Open Skies, the Russian Foreign Ministry said on May 22, following Washington’s decision to withdraw .
The Ministry noted that US officials say Washington may revise its decision on the withdrawal from the Open Skies Treaty if Russia implements all of its demands in the coming months.
“It is an ultimatum and this is not the right groundwork for negotiations,” the ministry underlined.

Signed on March 24, 1992, the Open Skies Treaty permits each state-party to conduct short-notice, unarmed, reconnaissance flights over the others’ entire territories to collect data on military forces and activities. Observation aircraft used to fly the missions must be equipped with sensors that enable the observing party to identify significant military equipment, such as artillery, fighter aircraft, and armored combat vehicles.

Though satellites can provide the same, and even more detailed, information, not all of the 34 treaty states-parties1 have such capabilities. The treaty is also aimed at building confidence and familiarity among states-parties through their participation in the overflights.