Brexit: EU offers backup plans to be ready for a potential “no-deal” situation

The EU has published contingency plans in case of the possible collapse of Brexit trade talks with the UK.

The aim of these contingency measures is to ensure smooth UK-EU air and road travel, as well as allowing the possibility of fishing access to each other’s waters for the period during which there is no agreement in place. If no agreement enters into application, they will end after a fixed period.

They come after talks between UK PM Boris Johnson and EU chief Ursula von der Leyen aimed at ending a deadlock over the deal ended without agreement.

The UK is due to stop following EU trading rules on 31 December.

The UK left the EU at the end of January this year, but a transition period of 11 months followed to allow the two sides to try to negotiate a deal. The outcome of these negotiations is still uncertain.

Some sectors would be disproportionately affected, the commission said, adding that it was proposing four contingency measures “to mitigate some of the significant disruptions” if a deal were not in place:

  • To ensure the provision of “certain air services” between the UK and EU for six months, provided the UK does the same
  • To allow aviation safety certificates to be used in EU aircraft without disruption to avoid grounding
  • To ensure basic connectivity for road freight and passenger transport for six months, provided the UK does the same
  • To allow the possibility of reciprocal fishing access for UK and EU vessels in each other’s waters for one year, or until an agreement is reached

President 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”.

Reacting to the EU’s contingency plans, Boris Johnson’s spokesman said the UK government would look “very closely at the details” and that negotiators were “continuing to work to see if the two sides could bridge the remaining gaps”.

The spokesman added that the government “had been clear throughout it would not agree to anything that did not respect UK sovereignty”.

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