Brexit: contingency plans or old bilaterals?
Trade is encouraged to continue preparing for Brexit but with just a few weeks away from the 29th of March it is still not clear what a company needs to prepare for. In the case of a no deal, should countries rely on old bilaterals, or are the contingency plans leading, or is there a middle way?
In some Member States, the bilaterals are from the 70s and are very liberal whereas in others they are much stricter. Bilaterals will make a very fractured landscape, however calling them invalid by Brussels and pushing for a coordinated EU – UK bilateral may be seen as overreaching.
Some Member States fear that the European Commission’s approach to maintain only “basic” connectivity for trucks and planes – to allow only one return journey for such vehicles – would create unnecessary disruption and hurt EU industries. A more accommodating approach to contingency measures could provide British hauliers with more operating freedoms within the EU market, as well as granting UK airlines a broader range of flying rights than the basic point-to-point arrangements backed by Brussels. Even under the most forgiving scenario, British and EU officials envisage unprecedented disruption in the event of a no-deal.
For ESC members, it is very important to be sure that capacity will be sufficient for import into and export from the UK. Uncertainty about this subject does affect negatively a good preparation for, in the worst case, a cliff-edge scenario.
More information on Brexit preparedness:
- A European Commission presentation on the EU-UK Withdrawal Agreement explained
- The impact of the United Kingdom’s withdrawal from the EU in the area of customs and taxation
- Taskforce on Article 50 negotiations with the United Kingdom