EU to rule out ‘managed no-deal’ Brexit


BRUSSELS • The European Union (EU) will rule out doing mini deals with the UK to ease the chaos of Britain crashing out without a divorce agreement, stepping up pressure on British lawmakers to approve the deal that’s on table or risk disaster.

If the British Parliament fails to ratify the withdrawal treaty before the country’s scheduled leaving date of March 29, the EU won’t seek a “managed no-deal”, according to an EU official.

Instead, it will take unilateral steps to protect its interests, putting in place a bare minimum of emergency measures, and only if the UK reciprocates with its own actions, the person said. The plans are due to be published later this week.

With Theresa May struggling to get lawmakers’ approval of an agreement that’s taken 18 months to negotiate, some pro-Brexit members of her Cabinet have suggested that a managed no deal could be a workable alternative.

Others said it would be catastrophic. Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt told the Sunday Telegraph last weekend that the UK would “ flourish and prosper” even in the case of a no-deal Brexit. May’s Cabinet was due to discuss contingency plans yesterday.

The EU is preparing no-deal measures in eight areas. The European Commission will say that steps generally won’t last longer than until the end of 2019, when it publishes details of proposed EU legislation today. The areas are:

• Aviation: The EU will allow airliners from the UK to fly over the EU, land in the EU and fly back to the UK, and make refuelling stops in the EU.
• Financial services: The EU would allow the UK’s derivatives clearinghouses to continue serving banks in the bloc — under a so-called equivalence arrangement — for 12 months after Brexit in the case of no deal.
• Customs: The EU will levy duties and taxes on UK goods and is stepping up arrangements to carry out customs checks at entry points from the UK.
• Road transport: Permits will still be given to UK truck drivers, but these would be far more restricted than is currently the case under EU membership.
• Climate policy: EU climate change legislation won’t apply to the UK. The Commission will take steps to ensure its emissions trading system isn’t affected.
• Rights of citizens: The EU will say it is taking a “generous” approach to British citizens living in one of its 27 countries at the moment of Brexit and will enable them to obtain long-term residency status if they fulfil the necessary conditions.
• Livestock and animal products: The EU hopes to allow the import of live animals and animal products from the UK as long as the country meets sanitary standards. Disruption will be expected, however, because new checks will have to take place on entry into the EU.
• Personal data: If the UK leaves the EU with no deal, the country will be governed by the rules covering international transfers, which makes it far more difficult to exchange personal data.

The UK has also issued a wave of no-deal contingency plans in recent months. Speaking in the House of Commons on Monday, May said measures were being intensified.

“Disruption will take place in no-deal in the short term,” she said. “We want to take every step we can to mitigate that.”