MEPs set shields to mitigate no-deal Brexit adverse impact

They voted a series of amendments to ensure the least possible disruption to citizens and businesses

Photo: EP Iskra Mihaylova

Against the backdrop of the widening vagueness about the UK's intentions on the divorce with the EU, while the officially declared exit day is rapidly approaching, the MEPs voted a set of safeguards to ensure the least possible disruption to citizens and businesses. During their plenary sitting on 13 March, they voted amendments concerning the travel, air and road transport, Erasmus, social security and fisheries related measures to mitigate the effects of a withdrawal of the UK from the EU without a deal - the so-called 'cliff-edge' scenario. 

Last December, the Commission proposed urgency measures to lessen the effects of a withdrawal of the UK from the EU without an agreement.

These safeguards do not resemble the benefits of membership or of a transition period and are limited in time. Some of the measures are adopted under the condition that the UK will come up with reciprocating move.

The first text that was put to vote was the proposal for continuation of the territorial cooperation programmes PEACE IV between Ireland, Northern Ireland and Scotland. The file was steered by Bulgarian ALDE MEP Iskra Mihaylova, chair of the EP REGI Committee.

These two programmes have crucial role for the cross-border relations and their objective is to support peace and reconciliation and North-South cooperation under the “Good Friday Agreement”. The adopted provisions will allow continued funding even after the current programming period that ends in 2020. The amounts allocated to the two programmes, altogether €553m, and the management procedures will remain the same. The withdrawal of the United Kingdom without an agreement would cause particular difficulties in Northern Ireland and the border areas of Ireland, as their status is dependent on both parts of the island being in the European Union, with open borders. MEPs expect swift accord with the Council and the legislation to be published before the date of the divorce.

Among the adopted legal shields is also a proposal for current Erasmus students and teachers in or from the UK to complete their ongoing learning activity abroad, and continued funding of EU programmes building cross-border and cross-community relations in Ireland and Northern Ireland.

With 653 in favour, 21 against and 5 abstentions MEPs approved the contingency measures that would allow UK airlines for a limited period to provide services between the UK and the EU in case of a no-deal Brexit as long as the UK provides equivalent access to EU companies. According to the lawmakers, the safeguards would apply until 30 March 2020 or until an air transport agreement between the EU and the UK enters into force, depending on which happens earlier.

A temporary mechanism for the European Aviation Safety Agency to issue aviation safety certificates for UK companies was propped up by 658 in favour, 8 against and 4 abstentions. EP's position for allowing UK road haulage and bus and coach operators to provide services between the UK and the EU until the end of 2019, as long as the UK confers the equivalent rights to EU operators, gathered 623 votes in favour, 35 against with 21 abstentions. This amendment is expected to avoid serious disruptions in road freight and bus and coach transport.

It will also ensure the validity of rail safety authorisations to obtain nine-month extension which will safeguard continuity of train services between the EU and the UK. MEPs also supported a plan on realigning the Trans-European Transport Network in order to ensure new maritime connections between Ireland and other EU countries and continuity of port infrastructure funding.


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