With 100 days remaining to Brexit on 29 March 2019, the European Commission began implementation of "No deal" contingency plan. This is the EU protecting its own interests. The measures taken are "temporary in nature, limited in scope and adopted unilaterally by the EU." It is entirely open to the EU to amend or cancel the measures if it deems such action to be required.
The EU commission Press Release states -
"Given the continued uncertainty in the UK surrounding the ratification of the Withdrawal Agreement, as agreed between the EU and the UK on 25 November 2018 – and last week's call by the European Council (Article 50) to intensify preparedness work at all levels and for all outcomes – the European Commission has today started implementing its “no deal” Contingency Action Plan. This delivers on the Commission's commitment to adopt all necessary “no deal” proposals by the end of the year, as outlined in its second preparedness Communication of 13 November 2018.
Today's package includes 14 measures in a limited number of areas where a "no-deal" scenario would create major disruption for citizens and businesses in the EU27. These areas include financial services, air transport, customs, and climate policy, amongst others.
The Commission considers it essential and urgent to adopt these measures today to ensure that the necessary contingency measures can enter into application on 30 March 2019 in order to limit the most significant damage caused by a "no-deal" scenario in these areas.
These measures will not – and cannot – mitigate the overall impact of a "no-deal" scenario, nor do they in any way compensate for the lack of stakeholder preparedness or replicate the full benefits of EU membership or the terms of any transition period, as provided for in the Withdrawal Agreement. They are limited to specific areas where it is absolutely necessary to protect the vital interests of the EU and where preparedness measures on their own are not sufficient. As a rule, they will be temporary in nature, limited in scope and adopted unilaterally by the EU. They take into account discussions with Member States and are in addition to the preparedness measures that have already been taken, as set out in the two previous preparedness Communications.
The Commission will continue to implement its Contingency Action Plan in the weeks to come and will monitor the need for additional action, as well as continue to support Member States in their preparedness work."
The Press release also states -
The ratification of the Withdrawal Agreement continues to be the objective and priority of the Commission. As emphasised in the Commission's first Brexit preparedness Communication of 19 July 2018, irrespective of the scenario envisaged, the United Kingdom's choice to leave the European Union will cause significant disruption.
Stakeholders, as well as national and EU authorities, therefore need to prepare for two possible main scenarios:
- If the Withdrawal Agreement is ratified before 30 March 2019, EU law will cease to apply to and in the UK on 1 January 2021, i.e. after a transition period of 21 months.
- If the Withdrawal Agreement is not ratified before 30 March 2019, there will be no transition period and EU law will cease to apply to and in the UK as of 30 March 2019. This is referred to as the "no deal" or "cliff-edge" scenario.
Preparation by the UK government for a "no deal" Brexit have been on-going for some time - see post 7 September 2018 - Operation Yellowhammer.
The UK government has decided to "ramp up" no deal preparation - BBC News 18 December - "It allocated to ministries £2bn set aside in case the UK leaves on 29 March without MPs having accepted any deal.
Letters will be sent to 140,000 firms updating them on what they should do while 3,500 troops will be put on standby to help government departments."
Department for Exiting the EU - How to prepare if the UK leaves the EU with no deal
Department for Exiting the EU - Publications