UPDATED: EU presents contingency measures on Brexit, Commission chief says

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European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said on Thursday she had laid out measures to cope if Britain and the European Union fail to agree a trade deal by Dec. 31.

The measures would allow smooth air and road travel for the next six months, among other measures, von der Leyen said.

“Our responsibility is to be prepared for all eventualities,” she said in a statement posted on Twitter.

The European Union short-term measures are aimed to limit disruption to air traffic, road and rail transport, as well as fisheries, if Britain leaves the bloc without a trade accord by Dec. 31.

The European Commission, which presented the plans, said it was still seeking a trade agreement by the year-end deadline but that it could only soften some of the disruption predicted as Britain leaves the EU’s orbit.

“While a ‘no-deal’ scenario will cause disruptions in many areas, some sectors would be disproportionately affected due to a lack of appropriate fall-back solutions,” the Commission said in a statement.

It proposed keeping “certain air services” between Britain and the EU for up to six months, provided London ensures the same. Air safety measures would continue to be recognised, to avoid grounding aircraft. The measures would allow carriers to continue to fly over each others’ territories, make stops and provide services.

Basic connections by road freight and for road passengers would also continue for six months as long as it was reciprocal. Separate regulation, if approved by EU member states, would allow the Channel Tunnel road and rail link to continue for two months, until Britain and France agree new safety and supervision certificates that are set to expire.

Without a trade deal and without regulation, the under-sea link between France and Britain would be suspended.

On fishing, the Commission said it proposed: “a regulation to create the appropriate legal framework until 31 December 2021, or until a fisheries agreement with the UK has been concluded – whichever date is earlier – for continued reciprocal access by EU and UK vessels to each other’s waters after 31 December 2020.”

The Commission said it would also soon propose a 5 billion euro ($6.05 billion) “Brexit Adjustment Reserve” as part of the EU’s new 2021-2027 budget to help EU businesses adapt.

“The Commission sees no need for any other Union-wide, legislative contingency measures than those proposed today,” the EU executive said in a separate statement. 

Main Photo: European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen gives a statement at the European Commission in Brussels, Belgium. EPA-EFE/JULIEN WARNAND / POOL

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