EU Prepares for No Deal Brexit
The clock is ticking until the end of the Brexit transition period and very little time left to agree on a deal.
With Brexit talks between London and Brussels seemingly deadlocked the EU has issued its no deal contingency plans to ensure that road and air links with the UK can continue next month.
The statement noted that
While the Commission will continue to do its utmost to reach a mutually beneficial agreement with the UK, there is now significant uncertainty whether a deal will be in place on 1 January 2021.
The European Commission has today put forward a set of targeted contingency measures ensuring basic reciprocal air and road connectivity between the EU and the UK, as well as allowing for the possibility of reciprocal fishing access by EU and UK vessels to each other’s waters.
If no deal is reached between London and Brussels then the legal agreements that allow flights to operate between the EU and the UK and road passenger and haulage to run smoothly will expire.
Thus the EU has put forth contingency plans to allow road transport connectivity and flights to continue operating, but they were conditional on the UK accepting the rules.
The aim of these contingency measures is to cater for the period during which there is no agreement in place. If no agreement enters into application, it will end after a fixed period.
Commission president Ursula von der Leyen said: “Negotiations are still ongoing. However, given that the end of the transition is very near, there is no guarantee that if and when an agreement is found, it can enter into force on time. Our responsibility is to be prepared for all eventualities, including not having a deal in place with the UK on 1 January 2021. That is why we are coming forward with these measures today”.
What are the contingency plans?
Basic air connectivity: A proposal for a regulation to ensure the provision of certain air services between the UK and the EU for 6 months, provided the UK ensures the same.
Aviation safety: A proposal for a regulation ensuring that various safety certificates for products can continue to be used in EU aircraft without disruption, thereby avoiding the grounding of EU aircraft.
Basic road connectivity: A proposal for a regulation covering basic connectivity with regard to both road freight, and road passenger transport for 6 months, provided the UK assures the same to EU hauliers.
Awaiting UK’s response
The UK had not officially responded but the government’s transport secretary, Grant Shapps has said previously: “The government’s priority is to ensure that flights can continue to operate safely, securely and punctually between the UK/EU at the end of transition period, regardless of the outcome of negotiations.
“Air travel is vital for both the UK and the EU in connecting people and facilitating trade and tourism, and we are confident measures will be in place to allow for continued air connectivity beyond the end of 2020.”
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UK signals a No Deal Brexit outcome
After the UK Prime Minister met the European Commission President the pair failed to make a breakthrough on Brexit talks on Wednesday.
UK Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, has stated that there is a “strong possibility” that the UK will fail to strike a post-Brexit trade deal with the EU and warned UK citizens & business that “now is the time” for firms and people to prepare for a no deal outcome.
“There’s a strong possibility that we will have a solution much more like Australian relationship with the EU than a Canadian relationship with the EU,” he said.
The UK and the EU continue to talk to try to reach a deal between the two sides but Mr Johnson said they were “not yet there at all”.
The Prime Minister insists that the UK will “prosper” on the No-Deal terms, but the previous Australian Prime Minister, Malcolm Turnbull, has said the UK should be “careful what you wish for”.
What other EU countries are doing to prepare
EU countries have been preparing for a no-deal Brexit since 2018.
The Irish government published a Brexit readiness plan in September, including a no deal scenario.
On the issue of the future of the land border with Northern Ireland, the EU and the UK have outlined new rules aimed at preventing checks along the border after 31st December.
France plans to include 700 extra customs staff, and 300 new border inspection staff, to check food, plants and live animals by the end of 2020.
The European Commission approved seven new border posts, on 11 April 2019, in preparation for the new checks.
Germany, the Netherlands, Belgium and Spain have also put in place similar provisions.
They have all recruited extra customs staff at airports and ports and expanded infrastructure.
The French government confirms that trade won’t be as smooth as it is now, despite the preparations.
The new European Commission document states “Disruption will happen with or without an agreement between the EU and the UK on their future relationship. This is the natural consequence of the United Kingdom’s decision to leave the Union.”
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