Brexit will cause disruption with or without a deal, EU warns

UK government is outlining preparations for a no-deal

Jon Stone
Brussels
Thursday 23 August 2018 13:11
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EU warns Brexit will cause disruption with or without a deal

The European Commission has warned that Brexit will cause disruption “regardless” of whether an agreement is reached, as the UK government outlines its plans for a no-deal.

On Thursday Britain’s Brexit secretary Dominic Raab published 25 documents advising businesses what to do in the event no agreement is reached, with advice covering sectors such as medicine, finance and farming.

The UK minster says he believe a deal with the EU was “by far the most likely outcome” despite one Cabinet colleague earlier this summer putting the chance of a no-deal at more likely than not.

Asked about the UK plans in Brussels on Thursday a spokesperson for the European Commission said there would be disruption “with a deal or without a deal” and outlined the preparedness steps the bloc had taken on its own side.

“As we have said many times, we are working constructively to reach a deal. While we are continuously working to this effect it is also clear that that withdrawal of the UK is going to lead to disruption regardless: with a deal or without a deal,” the spokesperson said.

“That’s why everybody and in particular economic operators need to be prepared, and it’s in the context of this preparedness that we have published close to 70 sector-specific preparedness notices.

“The purpose of these notices is to help businesses to prepare for all outcomes of the UK’s withdrawal from the EU and it does follow repeated calls from the European Council to be prepared and to step up preparedness at all levels and for all outcomes.”

The European Commission has repeatedly said that that the only way to prevent disruption to trade between the UK and EU after Brexit is for the UK to commit to being a member of the single market and in a customs union with the bloc.

Britain has ruled out both policies and hopes to avoid border checks through other means which has so far been rejected as unworkable by Brussels. Michel Barnier, the EU’s chief negotiator, has said the only “business as usual” option for Britain would be joining the single market and a customs union.

If the UK can negotiate a withdrawal agreement before the October deadline then it will get a transition period – meaning it would be a further two years until the border checks come into force. The main outstanding issue preventing the withdrawal agreement from being signed is the question of the Northern Ireland border.

But if no withdrawal agreement can be agreed, then the UK will leave without a transition on 29 March 2019 – a state of affairs that would be expected to cause unplanned chaos across British economy and society, as well as disruption in the EU.

The no-deal papers published by the British government today admit that Britons in the EU could be unable to access their bank accounts in the event of a no-deal, while pensioners could also miss out on payments.

Other outcomes include disruption to flights as open-skies agreements expire, massive queues on motorways in the south of England because of disruption and ports, and questionable immigration status for UK nationals living in the EU.

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