Ahead of the European Council (Article 50) today, the European Commission has taken stock of the European Union's intense ‘no-deal' preparations and has issued practical guidance to Member States in 5 areas.
These areas include:
- citizens' residence and social security entitlements
- data protection
- medicine and medical devices
- police and judicial cooperation in criminal matters
- and fisheries
The aim of today's guidance is to ensure the smooth practical implementation of EU and national contingency measures, if the United Kingdom were to leave the EU without a deal, and to maintain a coordinated approach throughout any such ‘no-deal' phase. A ‘no-deal' withdrawal will cause disruption and is not desirable, but the EU is fully prepared for it.
As outlined by President Juncker in the European Parliament on 3 April 2019, should a ‘no-deal' scenario occur, the UK would be expected to address three main separation issues as a precondition before the EU would consider embarking on discussions about the future relationship. These are:
- protecting and upholding the rights of citizens who have used their right to free movement before Brexit
- honouring the financial obligations the UK has made as a Member State
- and preserving the letter and spirit of the Good Friday Agreement and peace on the island of Ireland, as well as the integrity of the internal market.
Citizens' residence and social security entitlements
The European Commission has consistently made clear that protecting the rights of UK citizens in the EU in a ‘no-deal' scenario is a priority and that Member States should adopt a generous approach with regards to their rights. The UK is expected to reciprocate this approach.
The EU27 Member States have prepared national contingency measures to ensure continued legal residence in the immediate aftermath of a ‘no-deal' scenario for UK citizens residing legally in the EU27. Today's guidance provides an overview of the EU's contingency measures, notably the contingency Regulation on Social Security Coordination.
A ‘no-deal' scenario
In a ‘no-deal' scenario, the UK will become a third country without any transitional arrangements. All EU primary and secondary law will cease to apply to the UK from that moment onwards. There will be no transition period, as provided for in the Withdrawal Agreement. This will obviously cause significant disruption for citizens and businesses.
UK citizens will no longer be citizens of the European Union. They will be subject to additional checks when crossing borders into the European Union. Again, Member States have made considerable preparations at ports and airports to ensure that these checks are done as efficiently as possible, but they may nevertheless cause delays.
The EU's ‘no-deal' preparedness and contingency work
Since December 2017, the European Commission has been preparing for a ‘no-deal' scenario. To date, the Commission has tabled 19 legislative proposals 18 of which have been adopted or agreed by the European Parliament and Council.
While the impact of a ‘no-deal' scenario will be felt throughout the European Union, it is clear that some regions and economic sectors will be affected more directly. The Commission has explored how current EU funds and programmes could be mobilised in case of a ‘no-deal' and in the case the UK fails to pay what is envisaged under the contingency EU budget Regulation.