The EU says it has completed preparations for the eventuality that the UK leaves the trading bloc without a Brexit deal having issued a raft of legislative proposals to prepare member states.

Since the Commission began readying for the possibility of a ‘no-deal’ Brexit at the end of 2017, it has issued 19 legislative proposals and published 90 preparation notices for its remaining 27 constituents once the UK leaves the European Union, according to a statement today (25 March).

“The Commission has held extensive technical discussions with the EU27 Member States both on general issues of preparedness and contingency work and on specific sectorial, legal and administrative preparedness issues,” the statement read. “The Commission has now also completed its tour of the capitals of the 27 EU Member States. The aim of these visits was to provide any necessary clarifications on the Commission’s preparedness and contingency action and to discuss national preparations and contingency plans. The visits showed a high degree of preparation by Member States for all scenarios.”

Last week, UK Prime Minister Theresa May came away from a meeting in Brussels with an agreement to extend the UK’s departure from the EU to 22 May, provided the House of Commons approves the so-called Withdrawal Agreement by the original departure date of 29 March. If that does not happen, then the European Council has only agreed to an extension to 12 April.

The Withdrawal Agreement contains conditions such as a transition period, which would run from 29 March until 31 December 2020, a financial settlement to be paid by the UK to the EU, trade between the border of Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, and citizens’ rights.

“While a no-deal scenario is not desirable, the EU is prepared for it,” the EC said today. “It is now important that everyone is ready for and aware of the practical consequences a no-deal scenario brings.”

“In such a scenario, the UK’s relations with the EU would be governed by general international public law, including rules of the World Trade Organisation. The EU will be required to immediately apply its rules and tariffs at its borders with the UK. This includes checks and controls for customs, sanitary and phytosanitary standards and verification of compliance with EU norms. Despite the considerable preparations of the Member States’ customs authorities, these controls could cause significant delays at the border. UK entities would also cease to be eligible to receive EU grants and to participate in EU procurement procedures under current terms.”

Of the 19 legislative proposals, the Commission said 17 have been adopted or agreed by the European Parliament and European Council, while the other two have yet to be finalised.

“These proposals are temporary in nature, limited in scope and will be adopted unilaterally by the EU,” today’s statement said. “They are not ‘mini-deals’ and have not been negotiated with the UK.”  

Contingency measures put in place by the Commission include financial services, the EU budget beyond 2019, the continuation of peace on the Irish border, fishing rights, ship inspections and road and rail networks.