(CNN)The European Union launched legal proceedings against the United Kingdom on Monday over London's unilateral attempts to extend the Brexit grace period on food imports to Northern Ireland.
EU launches legal action against UK over Northern Ireland protocol
The move comes after Northern Ireland Secretary Brandon Lewis announced on March 3 that the UK planned to continue to bypass bureaucratic requirements on those imports until October 1.
A grace period on those checks is currently scheduled to expire at the end of March.
This three-month extension from the end of the Brexit transition period on January 1 was an agreed goodwill measure to allow the affected food industries to adapt to the new trade barriers across the Irish Sea.
A specific part of the Brexit withdrawal agreement, called the Northern Ireland Protocol, aims to eliminate the need for border controls between Northern Ireland (part of the UK) and the Republic of Ireland (an EU member).
The EU-UK trade deal, which went into effect at the start of 2021, demands customs checks on some goods arriving in Northern Ireland from the UK mainland, including food.
EU officials said they were blindsided by the UK's move to extend the grace period. Negotiators had been attempting to broke a compromise.
The EU's legal actions are twofold.
On Monday, the EU sent a letter to the UK to formally notify London of its alleged breach of the Withdrawal Agreement, a move that could potentially result in the UK being taken to an arbitration panel that may result in financial sanctions.
The formal notice