The European Union (EU) will be hit harder than Britain in the immediate aftermath of a ‘no deal’ Brexit, Brussels officials have conceded, as the bloc comes under pressure to soften its negotiating stance.
European Commission bureaucrats are currently rushing to make plans to keep trade flowing in the event of the United Kingdom not agreeing a ‘transition’ period or formal trade agreement before the Brexit date, and leaving the bloc on standard World Trade Organisation (WTO) rules.
However, because of the European Parliament elections, new Commissioners being chosen, the ability of individual nations to veto law changes, and the possibility of challenges in the EU courts, they are unlikely to be able to act swiftly or decisively in this scenario.
Britain in contrast, could act unilaterally and suspend tariffs to keep key goods coming in and planes flying, even if this technically breaks WTO rules, as they are unenforceable in the short term, The Times reports.
Unity among the remaining 27 member-states could break down in a ‘no deal’ situation, EU officials said, with individual nations with strong trading relations with the UK breaking ranks and calling for a softer approach.
“It will be very difficult to co-operate,” a senior eurocrat told The Times. “In most areas where we will need to act there will be national vetoes in play. All countries will be able to block.”
Brexit Minister to Publish ‘No Deal’ Brexit Plans in Warning to Brussels https://t.co/52qYjT2gHq
— Breitbart London (@BreitbartLondon) July 19, 2018
Another Commission figure admitted they could struggle to get ‘no deal’ preparations ready and legally watertight in time, saying it was “not easily done”.
Vicky Ford, a former chairwoman of the European Parliament’s internal market committee, argued that any attempt to change the EU’s underlying laws could take a long time.
She commented: “In terms of getting decisions made quickly you need more notice than you do in the British parliament.”
Mrs Ford also argued that the absence of a European Parliament from April could also be a problem for the bloc, as elections are likely to return a more populist selection of MEP who would be less predictable.
“The fear is that the new parliament is going to be much more fragmented and difficult to manage,” she said.
“Everyone I speak to in member-states wants a deal before March and if that is not possible then an extension to Article 50 to give us time to reach a deal.”
The EU admission comes as the Prime Minister’s widely unpopular ‘soft’ Brexit plan is dismissed by experts as unworkable and unlikely to be accepted by the bloc, potentially increasing the chances of a ‘no deal’ Brexit.