Britain snubs deadline to answer EU legal query

London has not responded to a letter sent by the European Commission about its failure to nominate a commissioner in time for a Friday midnight deadline, a spokeswoman for the EU executive confirmed to dpa.

“The commission will analyze the situation and decide on possible next steps – if any – when it deems it appropriate,” Mina Andreeva told dpa in Brussels on Saturday.

The commission opened legal action against Britain on Nov. 14, telling London it had breached its legal obligations to the European Union by not naming a candidate and demanding a response.

Under the process, the EU executive could ultimately refer Britain to the European Court of Justice.

The commission is supposed to be composed of one top official from each of the 28 EU member states.

London’s refusal prompted fears of further delays for the start of Ursula von der Leyen’s presidency.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has refused to name a candidate, first citing his country’s upcoming departure from the EU, and then elections in Britain set for Dec. 12.

Von der Leyen’s team is confident based on EU legal advice that the lack of a British commissioner should not hinder her from legally taking office on Dec. 1, however.

She was due to take over from incumbent president Jean-Claude Juncker on November 1 but was forced to delay due to the rejection of three EU commissioner candidates by EU lawmakers.

EU member states signed off her new commission on Friday and EU lawmakers are expected to approve it in a vote next Wednesday.

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