European Govts Shred ‘No Deal’ Scaremongering on Customs, Travel Disruption

TORQUAY, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 13: People hold up posters at the 'Leave Means Rally' at the Rivera International Centre on October 13, 2018 in Torquay, England. Leave Means Leave is a pro-Brexit campaign, holding a series of rallies and events across the United Kingdom. (Photo by Matt Cardy/Getty Images)
Matt Cardy/Getty

The governments of France, Belgium, and the Netherlands have already made preparations for Britain leaving the EU without a deal, with the European Commission relenting on their hard line by making concessions on freight, flights, and some financial services.

French authorities have confirmed plans to minimise disruption for the cross-border transport of goods, including a Fastpass system for lorries travelling from Calais to the United Kingdom where hauliers can complete customs paperwork online before reaching the port, and licence plate reading cameras to help limit delays, according to The Times.

The Belgian and Dutch governments have also announced that their ports are ready for Britain to leave the European Union without a deal, with the Netherlands having hired an additional 1,000 staff in preparation to run customs checks on 10,500 “foreign” ship cargoes going to or from British ports.

Both countries are appealing to the EU to make “No Deal” Brexit shipping easier, complaining France’s Le Touquet agreement gives France an unfair advantage, where goods only need to be checked once rather than twice as in the lowland countries.

Europe’s biggest port, Rotterdam, is said to be sizing up Calais to take away business, with a senior European diplomat telling The Times, “Competition is already cut-throat. After a Brexit No Deal it could become beggar thy neighbour and the EU will be keeping an eye on what both the Dutch and French are up to.”

The European Commission has also confirmed its own cross-bloc arrangements should the United Kingdom make a clean break of the EU, which will temporarily allow the continuity of regulations in certain sectors.

The BBC reports this includes British flights overflying or landing in the EU for 12 months until other arrangements are made; certain financial services regulations being deemed equivalent for one to two years; and road hauliers not needing permits for up to nine months.

The EU’s executive arm has also encouraged member-states to take a “generous” approach to the rights of British expats so long as they are reciprocated.

In that spirit, France’s Europe minister Nathalie Loiseau said that her country will guarantee the residency, employment, and welfare rights of the 160,000 British expats if similar reciprocal arrangements are made for French citizens living in the United Kingdom in the event of a No Deal Brexit.

British visitors to the EU will also be exempt from needing visas for short trips, with visits for longer than 90 days needing residency permits or visas.

While the Republic of Ireland — the only EU country with which the United Kingdom has a land border — has claimed that it would be “difficult” to avoid a so-called “hard border” between it and the British province of Northern Ireland in the event of a No Deal, such scaremongering does not acknowledge that there already is an invisible, seamless border between the two Irelands insofar as they have different Value Added Tax (VAT), excise duties, corporation tax, and currencies.

The United Kingdom has also signed up to continued membership of the Common Transit Convention, which reduces administrative burden by removing the need for companies to complete import and export customs declarations when travelling through multiple countries.

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