EU ready for 'increasingly likely' no-deal

The EU has today completed its preparations for a no-deal Brexit in view of the fact this is ‘increasingly likely’ to occur on April 12.

25 March 2019
By Oliver Rowland

While a no-deal is not desirable, it is prepared for it, a statement from the European Commission says. It has confirmed and clarified its no-deal plans and produced a new series of factsheets and provided a free helpline (see below).

The statement confirms that the EU has agreed to extend Brexit day to May 22 but says this applies only if the House of Commons agrees the ‘deal’ by the previous Brexit date of March 29 (this Friday). If this does not happen, Britain must ‘indicate a way forward’ before April 12 if it is to avoid a no-deal.

Commentators say such a ‘way forward’ would have to be a clear alternative plan, perhaps a referendum or a softer form of Brexit such as joining the European Economic Area. In which case a longer extension is expected involving the UK taking part in the European elections in May.

The Commission says it has done a tour of member states and finds there is a ‘high degree of preparation’.

It says consequences of no-deal would include:

  • The UK would immediately be a ‘third country’ to the EU, with no transition period. All EU law would cease to apply to it. This will ‘obviously cause significant disruption for citizens and businesses’.
  • The UK’s relations with the EU will be covered by international law, including World Trade Organisation rules, ie. trade tariffs will be applied at the borders with the UK including checks for customs, health and safety and compliance with EU norms. This ‘could cause significant levels of delays at the border’.
  • UK citizens will no longer be EU citizens and will be undergo additional border checks when coming into the EU. This ‘may cause delays’ despite the ‘considerable preparations’ that have been made at airports and ports so as to do this efficiently.

Unilateral EU contingency measures for no-deal include the following:

  • Providing this is reciprocated by the UK with ‘non-discriminatory’ visa-free travel to all EU citizens, Britons would not need visitor visas to visit the EU for periods of under three months (this is still in final stages of being formalised)
  • Students and trainees on Erasmus+ schemes at the time of Brexit can complete their studies and continue to receive grants.
  • Social security entitlements built up in the UK before Brexit would still be recognised afterwards; this refers notably to recognition of periods paying into a UK pension for purposes of the EU pension aggregation scheme
  • Continuation of rules on air connectivity and safety, allowing for ‘basic connectivity’ to continue so as to ‘avoid full interruption of air traffic between the UK and EU'
  • Measures ensuring trains can keep running through the Channel Tunnel for three months pending further agreements, provided the UK maintains normal EU safety standards
  • A 're-alignment of the North Sea–Mediterranean Core Network Corridor'. This refers to major strategic sea trading routes between Northern and Southern Europe; reinforced links would be created between Ireland, France, Belgium and the Netherlands.

A free no-deal information line has been set up for all EU citizens on 00 800 6 7 8 9 10 11 from anywhere in the EU and in any official EU language (including English).

A series of EU factsheets on no-deal can be found here.

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