The Latest: EU launches action against UK over commissioner

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Incoming European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen talks to European Commission Vice-President Frans Timmermans prior a ceremony to mark the 30th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall, at the European Parliament in Brussels, Wednesday, Nov. 13, 2019. (AP Photo/Francisco Seco)

BRUSSELS – The Latest on Britain’s failure to name a candidate for the new European Commission. (all times local):

6:15 p.m.

The European Union has launched legal action against the United Kingdom following the country's decision not to name a candidate for the bloc's executive arm.

The EU Commission says in a statement that it has sent a letter of formal notice to UK authorities, which have until Friday next week to "provide their views."

Sending a letter of formal notice is the first step in a lengthy legal procedure if the Commission deems a member state to be in contravention of EU rules. In the final stages of an infringement procedure the EU Commission can refer such a case to the bloc's highest court, which can in turn impose financial penalties.


6:10 p.m.

Britain’s decision not to name a candidate for the European Commission before the country’s Dec. 12 general election could further delay the forming of incoming Commission President Ursula von der Leyen’s team in Brussels.

The European Union confirmed Thursday that British authorities said they will not present a candidate to the bloc’s executive arm, despite its obligation to do so. Dana Spinant, the deputy spokeswoman for the next commission, however, said the U.K. has made clear it wants to cooperate in a constructive manner with the EU “to ensure the commission can be formed as soon as possible.”

After Britain’s envoy to Brussels, Tim Barrow, sent a letter to EU headquarters informing them of London’s decision, the commission is now exploring legal options that would allow von der Leyen’s team to start work on Dec. 1.

The new commission was initially scheduled to take office Nov. 1, which would have been after Britain had been scheduled to leave the bloc on Oct. 31. But European lawmakers rejected three commission candidates from other countries, delaying the process, and the EU agreed to delay Britain’s departure from the bloc until Jan. 31.