The EU and its Member States have begun implementing preparations for a no-deal Brexit as the likelihood of the UK reaching a deal in time decreases.
This week MEPs urged the UK either to reach a prompt decision on a Brexit deal or reconsider its decision to leave. In the wake of the House of Commons passing the Brady amendment, which would see the Northern Irish backstop established in the current withdrawal agreement dispensed with in favour of “alternative arrangements”, the European Parliament was unequivocal in reiterating that the backstop – like the rest of the agreement – would not be renegotiated.
The EU’s chief negotiator Michel Barnier told the Parliament: “Less than 60 days from the UK’s withdrawal date and in the absence today of a positive majority in favour of an identified solution that is acceptable to the European Union, it is urgent for us to prepare for all scenarios and to put in place contingency measures – the preparation of which President Juncker has entrusted to the Secretary-General of the Commission and all the teams which work with you – and which are now more important than ever.”
Trans-European Transport Network
The European presidency is set to begin negotiations with the European Parliament on measures to secure maritime connections between Ireland and other EU Member States in the event of a no-deal Brexit. The proposal would see the Connecting Europe Facility adapted to ensure Member States’ ports can still like to Ireland; and to provide financial support for border security.
Representatives of Member States have endorsed an update to the EU’s energy consumption targets which will reflect the loss of the UK. The adjusted figures will allow the EU to accurately gauge its progress towards energy efficiency and wider climate targets.
The EU-sponsored PEACE programme, which supports efforts towards peace and reconciliation between Ireland and Northern Ireland, has been approved to continue after a possible no-deal Brexit. Funding for the PEACE programme and its sister scheme the INTERREG VA programme – which boosts economic and social cooperation between Ireland, Northern Ireland and western Scotland – will continue unchanged until 2020.
The European Commission has adopted a range of contingency plans to protect the rights and status of students participating in the Erasmus+ exchange programme after Brexit. Funding programmes operating under the scheme will be able to continue unchanged; while UK students studying in the EU and EU students in the UK on the date the UK leaves the EU will be able to finish their studies without disruption.
The EU’s Civil Liberties Committee has agreed to allow visa-free access to EU Member States for UK nationals as long as the UK agrees to extend EU nationals visiting the UK the same courtesy. Claude Moraes, rapporteur for the proposal, said: “With the Brexit clock ticking, it is important to press ahead with this measure exempting British citizens from a visa requirement when travelling to the EU. This will go some way to clarifying EU visa policy after Brexit, while we work for other key assurances for British and EU citizens at the same time.”
UK Prime Minister Theresa May continues to prepare for Brexit by attempting to renegotiate the withdrawal agreement, which she told the UK Parliament was the only deal available and which EU representatives have made it clear they have no intention of amending further.