Brussels has issued contingency plans to keep planes in flight, trucks moving and avoid further chaos if trade talks with Britain fail, as it warned of “significant uncertainty »On the fate of the Brexit negotiations.
The European Commission adopted the proposals on Thursday, temporarily ensuring that airlines could continue to operate their normal routes between the EU and the UK and that carriers could continue to cross the Channel after Britain left the single market on January 1.
Brussels is also proposing that the EU and the UK guarantee fishermen a one-year grace period to continue accessing the waters of the other.
“While the Commission will continue to do everything possible to reach a mutually beneficial deal with the UK, there is now considerable uncertainty as to whether an agreement will be in place on January 1, 2021,” the executive said European in a press release.
Brussels had spent weeks resisting intense pressure from member states to release the plans, arguing that they could disrupt trade talks with Britain by making it appear as if the EU would create a safety net for the end of the country’s post-Brexit transition period.
But EU officials said the committee was forced to act because there was little time left until the end of the year. The precariousness of trade negotiations was underscored by a dinner Wednesday evening between British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and committee chairperson Ursula von der Leyen which exposed the gulf between the two sides.
Ms von der Leyen said on Thursday that the bloc had a responsibility “to prepare for all eventualities”.
A UK government spokesperson said: “We will discuss practical arrangements with the EU. We’ll take a very close look at the details, ”while noting that Britain was already advanced in its own preparations.
Brussels insisted it was doing the bare minimum necessary to avoid major economic disruption for European citizens and businesses. The aim, he said, was to “provide a transitional solution, while negotiations on a future partnership continue, and not to seek to mitigate the negative impacts of Brexit in a lasting manner”.
The emergency measures relate to areas where there is no “international relief solution” that would avoid chaos if a trade deal was not ready by year-end. This explains why there is no measure on the shipment.
Brussels noted, for example, that failure to put in place a transition system for road hauliers “would create unmanageable disruption and pose a serious threat to EU interests”.
Some of the proposals, which must be approved by national governments and the European Parliament, would need to receive UK reciprocity to be effective. This is the case with the air transport proposal, which would allow UK carriers to continue existing passenger and freight services between the UK and the EU for six months.
Brussels has also proposed to ensure the continued validity of aviation safety certificates.
On fisheries, the legal proposal would allow the EU to grant permits to British vessels to enter EU waters, if Britain reciprocates. The temporary arrangement would last until the end of 2021.
The UK spokesperson said Britain “would never agree to arrangements for access to UK waters which would be incompatible with our status as an independent coastal state”.
The road transport proposal would ensure that cross-Channel trade is not stifled by a shortage of transport permits and would last six months.
The committee’s announcements did not cover financial services, arguing that continued market access in this area does not depend on trade negotiations but on separate work on regulatory approvals. Brussels has yet to clarify what market rights the City of London can expect.
The committee warned national governments not to undermine the EU’s position that only the bare minimum of emergency measures should be put in place. He also called on capitals to use their collective influence to fight for EU interests in a no-deal scenario.
“In any case, the EU collectively has stronger bargaining power than each member state acting alone,” said the committee. “This bargaining power benefits all member states. It should be used to ensure a level playing field between the EU and the UK. ”