Commission tables no-deal contingency action plan

Mere days before Christmas the Commission set out short-term measures aimed at limiting disruption to air traffic, financial services and trade if Britain left the bloc without a deal, the EU press service reported. Given the continued uncertainty in the UK surrounding the ratification of the Withdrawal Agreement, the Commission started implementing its “no deal” Contingency Action Plan.

The package includes 14 measures in a number of areas where a “no-deal” scenario would create major disruption for citizens and businesses in the EU27. These measures will not mitigate the overall impact of a “no-deal” scenario as they are limited to specific areas where it is absolutely necessary to protect the vital interests of the EU and where preparedness measures on their own are not sufficient. As a rule, they will be temporary in nature, limited in scope and adopted unilaterally by the EU. They take into account discussions with Member States and are in addition to the preparedness measures that have already been taken, as set out in the two previous communications.

In a clear sign that a no-deal Brexit would not be business as usual, there would be new checks to currently frictionless trade, which could lead to tail-backs near ports and delays to deliveries. Every shipment of live animals or animal products from Britain would face controls at EU borders and Britons would lose the right to travel with their pets using EU pet passports. The EU would only allow British trucks to carry goods into the bloc, assuming also Britain allowed EU trucks in, until the end of next year. The Commission has also warned of higher charges for using credit or debit cards because EU rules limiting such fees would no longer apply.

Asked if the EU was offering Britain a relatively attractive no-deal option, Commission Vice President Valdis Dombrovskis told a news conference the measures were simply designed to limit disruption. He pointed out that the best way to avoid harming the British economy would be for Britain to stay in the EU. In the case of Brexit, the withdrawal agreement agreed with the British government was better than no deal. “In the case of no deal, doing some preparation to limit damage is better than not doing any preparation at all,” he said.

The Commission's measures cover transport, financial services, customs and border checks, taxation and climate change and will need to be backed by the European Parliament and the 27 countries remaining in the EU. The EU executive proposed allowing British airlines to fly to and from EU airports for 12 months, assuming Britain offered equivalent rights to EU airlines. The bloc would also recognise UK clearing houses for financial derivatives for a year.

Putting special accent on citizens, the Commission urged Member States to take measures to ensure that UK citizens legally residing in the EU on the date of withdrawal will continue to be considered legal residents. The Commission has already adopted a proposal for a Regulation which exempts UK nationals from visa requirements, provided that all EU citizens would be also exempt from UK visa requirements.

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