The European Parliament is calling on the EU to act rapidly to enforce the two Brexit treaties if the UK presses ahead with the Northern Ireland Protocol Bill.

The bill, which has passed through the House of Commons, disapplies large parts of the Protocol.

MEPs today took further steps to approve powers allowing the European Commission to impose retaliatory trade sanctions against the UK if it unilaterally dismantles the Northern Ireland Protocol.

The European Commission has proposed a new regulation which would seek to uphold the EU's rights under both the Withdrawal agreement and the subsequent Trade and Cooperation Agreement (TCA).

This morning the European Parliament debated amendments to a draft report on the regulation, following submissions by three relevant committees.

MEPs are insisting that the European Parliament have a strong role in enforcing the EU’s rights in respect of the Brexit treaties.

Sean Kelly says that the UK government 'has not engaged'

Fine Gael MEP Sean Kelly, lead negotiator for the trade committee, said that the measures will facilitate the imposition of "restrictions on trade, investment or other activities falling within the scope of the Withdrawal Agreement and the Trade and Cooperation Agreement."

Mr Kelly added that the appointment of a new Prime Minister in the UK will shift the focus back to the Northern Ireland Protocol.

But he noted the "bitterly disappointing" and "unfortunate reality" that "the British government has not engaged in serious negotiations on the Northern Ireland Protocol since February"

French MEP Nathalie Loiseau insists that the EU has acted in good faith

Nathalie Loiseau, the former French Minister for European Affairs who leads MEPs in the EU-UK Parliamentary Partnership Assembly, said that neither the Withdrawal Agreement nor the TCA would have been signed and ratified by the European Parliament "had we had any doubts as to whether it would then be properly implemented."

While parliament vice-president and Socialist Party MEP Pedro Silva Pereira reminded his colleagues that "the implementation of the Withdrawal Agreement is directly connected to the Trade and Cooperation Agreement",

German CDU MEP David McAllister, chair of the foreign affairs committee, lamented the lack of reciprocity on the part of Boris Johnson's government despite "the European Union's goodwill to find practical and flexible solutions to the issues caused by the type of Brexit the UK government has chosen".

"The UK government has once again gone down the slope of unilateral action, [so] it is clear that the European Union needs mechanisms to protect our interests," he said.

Trade at Belfast port rose last year

Negotiations between the EU and UK on easing the burden of the Northern Ireland Protocol have largely been suspended since February.

The Northern Ireland Protocol Bill, which has been championed by Tory leadership front runner Liz Truss, would effectively dismantle the Protocol in its current form.

The UK government says the Protocol is unworkable as it does not enjoy the support of both sides of the community.

EU diplomats are waiting to see if Liz Truss, should she become the new prime minister on Monday, softens her position on the bill or whether she will insist on the bill becoming law.

The DUP has blocked the formation of a Northern Ireland Assembly and Executive, insisting that it will only return to power sharing if the bill is enacted.