The incoming Czech presidency of the European Union has said it is "highly concerned" about the UK Bill that would unilaterally dismantle the Northern Ireland Protocol.

Czech Europe Minister Mikulas Bek told the European Parliament in Strasbourg: "The Withdrawal Agreement and its Protocol on Ireland and Northern Ireland, which is just over two-and-a-half years old, itself is already at risk of being torn apart by the UK.

"The Council [of the European Union] is highly concerned about the situation. We remain fully united and mobilised to protect the citizens who benefit from the Withdrawal Agreement [designed] to protect the Good Friday Agreement and to protect our single market," he said.

Mr Bek told a plenary session debate on the UK Protocol Bill: "We need to send a clear signal to the UK government. Let there be no doubt that the EU seeks to have a strategic, enduring and mutually beneficial partnership with the United Kingdom."

He said that in the current geopolitical situation, "the EU and the UK stand side by side in our response to Russia's brutal and unjustified action against Ukraine. We are both peaceful democracies that insist on respecting international agreements".

"It is therefore unacceptable to take steps which violate international commitments in the current circumstances. We must all hold ourselves to the highest standards, including respecting international agreements," he added.

The UK introduced its Protocol Bill on 13 June and it has already received a second reading in the House of Commons.

The bill would disapply large parts of the protocol and give ministers sweeping powers to preplace its provisions which the UK government prefers.

Addressing MEPs, the EU's chief negotiator, Maroš Šefčovič, said there was "no legal or political justification whatsoever" for the UK to unilaterally change an international agreement.

He said the EU's door was open to the UK to find joint solutions to the protocol.

"It is now for the UK to walk through the door. And I sincerely believe that with political will and genuine commitment solutions are still within reach," he said.

Fine Gael’s Sean Kelly MEP, who proposed the debate, described the UK as having a "Fawlty Towers" approach to managing the protocol.

He said the majority of MLAs returned in May’s Northern Ireland Assembly Elections were in favour of the protocol.

He added that the "vast majority" of businesses were also in favour "and see the benefits of being in the single market of the European Union and the UK market".

He told the chamber: "There is only one solution. Put this bill aside, come and negotiate and we can reach an agreement. That is what democrats always do."