The EU Commission paper on preparing for a no-deal Brexit

Posted in UK and EU legal framework WTO and international trade

The EU Commission has published a communication on the contingency plans it will put into place in the event of a no-deal Brexit. The measures address various issues including citizens’ rights, financial services, air transport, road haulage and climate policy. Significantly, they will be determined and implemented by the EU unilaterally, rather than in consultation with the UK.

According to the Commission, contingency plans should comply with the following principles:

  • Contingency measures should not replicate the benefits of membership of the Union, nor the terms of any transition period, as provided for in the draft Withdrawal Agreement;
  • They should be temporary in nature. For the measures adopted today, the Commission has, where relevant, proposed time limitations which are a function of the specific situation in the sector concerned;
  • They should be adopted unilaterally by the European Union in pursuit of its interests and should be revocable at any time;
  • They should respect the division of competences provided for by the Treaties;
  • National contingency measures should be compatible with EU law;
  • They should not remedy delays that could have been avoided by preparedness measures and timely action by the relevant stakeholders.

Although the paper contains temporary measures to avoid gridlock in relation to aviation and road haulage (for example allowing access for road haulage operators licenced in the UK for a period of nine months), there is no flexibility offered in relation to trade. The communication stipulates that all relevant EU legislation on imported goods and exported goods will apply as of the withdrawal date. It goes on to state that “Member States must take all necessary steps to be in a position, as from the withdrawal date in case the withdrawal agreement is not ratified, to apply the Union Customs Code and the relevant rules on indirect taxation to all imports from and exports to the United Kingdom”. Accordingly, the Commission’s position is that tariffs would apply on day one in the event of no deal.

Finally, on citizen’s rights, although the paper repeats that the Commission maintains that protecting EU citizens in the UK (as well as UK citizens in the EU) is a priority, it merely “calls upon Member States to take a generous approach to UK nationals who are already resident in their territory”.

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