The EU announced that it has completed its no-deal Brexit contingency plans — but precise arrangements for the politically sensitive question of the Irish border if the U.K. leaves the bloc without a deal are still yet to be finalized.
EU officials told reporters Monday that they have completed the screening of all sectors and meetings with all member states, and said the bloc is now prepared for a no-deal Brexit scenario.
There was little new information in the briefing, which follows the decision last week to put back the U.K.s exit day of March 29 by two weeks. To help with communicating the no-deal measures to citizens across the EU, the Commission has published a series of less technical summaries. It is also training staff at a call center dealing with queries from the public in all 24 of the blocs official languages about EU policies so that it can act as a hotline to deal with a surge in enquiries in a no-deal scenario.
Officials noted that people and goods will face longer waiting times when crossing borders if there is no deal. The EU has confirmed that in a no-deal British citizens who are not currently resident in the EU will have their passports stamped and be asked a few questions once entering the EU, just like citizens from other third countries.
But officials indicated that arrangements for the Irish border are still not finalized. This is a fraught issue for the EU because if a hard border can be avoided in a no-deal scenario, it calls into question the need for the controversial Northern Ireland backstop — a key part of the Withdrawal Agreement negotiated with London that many Brexiteers say is preventing them from voting for the deal.
“We are in intense discussions with the Irish authorities about these matters,” one EU official said. “We will of course continue and intensify these discussions over the coming days,” the official said, adding that the EU is considering options for financially helping Ireland in case of no deal.
While noting that the U.K. is a co-guarantor of the Good Friday Agreement and would in a no-deal scenario have to respect World Trade Organization rules, the official said that in a no-deal scenario, both the U.K. and Ireland “will need to take unilateral and temporary measures to protect legitimate trade, consumer, and public health. We would again expect the U.K. to live up to its commitment to avoid a hard border while protecting Irelands place in the internal market.”
Asked about physical infrastructure on the Irish border, the EU official said extra controls will be needed but that “we Read More – Source
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