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Photo: Thierry Monasse/Getty Images

The European Union's chief executive on Thursday initiated legal proceedings against the U.K. over Prime Minister Boris Johnson's plans to break international law to override parts of the Brexit deal the two sides struck last year.

Why it matters: It's a sign of a major breakdown in the U.K.-EU relationship and deals a blow to the odds of the two sides successfully negotiating a free trade agreement before the Brexit transition period expires at the end of the year. Investors and trade experts fear a "no-deal" Brexit on Dec. 31 could cause massive economic disruptions.

The state of play: The letter of "formal notice" gives Johnson a month to make changes to his proposed internal market bill, which the U.K. government admitted breaks international law "in a very specific and limited way," before the matter reaches European courts.

  • The bill as it stands would allow U.K. ministers to unilaterally determine which goods should be subject to EU checks and tariffs when passing from Great Britain to Northern Ireland, which shares a land border with the Republic of Ireland (an EU member).
  • The House of Commons passed the bill this week in spite of a small rebellion by members of Johnson's party and condemnation by all five living former U.K. prime ministers. It now faces resistance in the upper House of Lords.

Go deeper: Brexit threatens to become a constitutional crisis

Go deeper

U.K. abolishes tax on menstrual products

Photo: Jack Taylor/Getty Images

The United Kingdom's abolishment of a tax on menstrual products goes in effect today, according to a release from the government.

Why it matters: The repeal is among the first acts the U.K. is taking as part of its formal separation from the European Union because EU law prevents member nations from reducing the value-added tax on menstrual products below 5% because they are considered "luxury items."

2 mins ago - Technology

Facebook stock whipsaws amid ad targeting concerns

Photo Illustration by Igor Golovniov/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

Facebook's stock showed volatility in after-hours trading Wednesday, despite adding users and beating on top and bottom lines.

Why it matters: Investors seem spooked by proposed changes to user data collection by Apple that would impact Facebook's ad business, in addition to perennial threats of new federal privacy regulations.

Fed chair says low interest rates aren't driving stock market prices

Jerome Powell. Photo: ANDREW CABALLERO-REYNOLDS / Getty Images

Federal Reserve chairman Jerome Powell told reporters on Wednesday that rock-bottom interest rates aren't playing a role in driving stock prices higher, while noting that vulnerabilities to the financial system are "moderate."

Why it matters: The statement comes amid unshakeable stock prices and a Reddit-fueled market frenzy — prompting widespread fears of a bubble and the role monetary policy has played in that.