The Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz said in 2018 he would rather extend negotiations than surrender to a hard Brexit if a deal on the Irish border was not agreed.697 According to Bloomberg (19 July 2018), Austria did not anticipate customs problems “because the current WTO regime could handle shipments to and from the U.K”. The Government was also “confident the country’s banking industry is prepared for all scenarios”.
The Belgian Government hired more agents for the port of Antwerp and looked into “the need for scanners, sniffer dogs, weapons and drones to beef up post-Brexit customs surveillance” to monitor its coastline and the North Sea.698
Open Europe reported in August 2018:
The Belgian customs administration has also set up an internal committee which will be responsible for the extra infrastructure and for training the new staff. It has drawn up a list of potential items that may be needed after Brexit, which reportedly includes more luggage scanners, sniffer dogs, manual scanners, drones to survey the coastline, a submarine to examine ships in the North Sea, as well as vehicles, computers, work spaces, and uniforms. There are also plans to coordinate with neighbouring countries, the European Commission, Belgian ports and airports.
Special attention is being devoted to the ports of Zeebrugge and Antwerp, which are big re-exporters of goods to the UK. Together with the Dutch ports they account for the majority of total inbound and outbound traffic with Britain’s ports. The CEO of Zeebrugge, which has 46% of its traffic with the UK, has claimed the port will be ready for Brexit. It is building a digital platform to speed up bureaucratic procedures, and thinks it may be better equipped than some competitors, because it specialises in people-free freight.699
Flanders News reported on 16 January 2019:
Only one in five Belgian businesses trading with Britain is ready to fulfil customs formalities on shipments bound for the UK after it leaves the European Union at the end of March. An estimated 25,000 Belgian companies trade across the English Channel. Today 20,000 remain unprepared.
On 16 January 2019 deputy prime minister, Didier Reynders, said that safeguarding the rights of UK and Belgian citizens living in each other’s country was “a priority” in its no-deal planning. The social affairs minister,
697 See Politico, 6 July 2018
698 New York Times, 19 July 2018; The Express, Brexit no deal MAPPED: How EU countries are secretly preparing for no deal UK exit from EU, 20 July 2018
699 Open Europe, The view from Brussels: How are the EU27 preparing for a ‘No Deal’ Brexit? Pieter Cleppe, 30 August 2018
Maggie De Block, wrote in a blog on 16 January 2019 that reciprocal rights would be guaranteed and the Belgian Government will publish measures allowing UK nationals lawfully residing in Belgium on 30 March to continue to live and work in Belgium, at least temporarily. The measures are currently being reviewed by the Council of State.
Bloomberg reported in July 2018 that Bulgaria was preparing for the risks of three possible Brexit scenarios: a comprehensive agreement, a partial agreement, and no deal. The Government would “develop a detailed action plan for the three scenarios”.
Denmark has made contingency plans for a no-deal Brexit, including setting aside 700 million kroner to cover extra payments to the EU. Finance Minister Jensen said in August 2018:
We don’t expect Brexit to materially impact the 2019 budget structurally, so the budget will be stable and reliable. But what actually will happen is that our payment to the EU may change if we get a hard Brexit.
Through 2019 and maybe into 2020 we’ll be negotiating the EU budget for years to come and we’ll be missing the voice of the U.K. when advocating fiscally responsible spending.700
On 2 October Prime Minister Rasmussen told the new Danish Parliament “We are employing customs officers and preparing the system”. He also assured British citizens living in Denmark that “no matter the end result of the negotiations”, they would be looked after.701
In their Negotiating Brexit chapter, Jensen and Kelstrup reported that the Danish Government’s Brexit task force was collecting intelligence from ministries and stakeholders on areas that will be affected by a no deal Brexit and preparing contingency plans.
The Finnish Government instructed ministries to prepare for any outcome in the Brexit negotiations. Its main concern was the aviation industry, but in mid-2018 “no concrete contingency preparations” had started.702
A report in October 2018 on UK nationals living in Finland said that according to officials at the Interior Ministry, “up to now, not much thought has gone into the scenario of what should happen to more than five
700 Bloomberg, Hard Brexit? Denmark Prepares for Worst with Budget Reserve, 30 August 2018
701 The local.dk, Brexit is ‘tragedy’, Danish government will ‘look after’ Brits in Denmark: PM, 2 October 2018; YouTube, 2 October 2018
702 Bloomberg, How Europe Is Bracing for Messy Brexit: Dogs, Drones, Do Nothing, 19 July 2018
234 What if there’s no Brexit deal?
thousand British passport holders who currently live and work in Finland”.
France has been preparing for Brexit “for almost two years in sectors spanning from fisheries and borders to financial services”.704
Prime Minister Édouard Philippe said on 27 August 2018 that France would be ready in the event of a ‘cliff edge’ exit. He has “tasked ministers to prepare contingency measures that would be necessary… to mitigate the difficulties linked with this unprecedented challenge”.705 France has adopted measures on the status of approximately 150,000 UK citizens living in France. They have been encouraged by the French Government to apply for a ‘carte de séjour’ residency permit to avoid administrative chaos post-Brexit”.706 In the case of ‘no deal’ Prime Minister Philippe wanted plans in place to “facilitate the residency of British nationals already living in France” and to ensure “the greatest possible fluidity of border controls”.707 The Government will shortly present a bill to the French Parliament.
According to The Guardian, Xavier Bertrand, a former French minister and president of Hauts-de-France, has said that “Calais was prepared to solve the problem of space for checks in Dover”. The port had acquired 17 hectares (42 acres) of land, which could be used for customs inspection posts and storage. France is also reported to be planning to recruit 700 new customs officials, some of whom will be based in Calais. An additional 250 members of staff have been recruited in 2018, rising to around 700 by the end of 2020.708 The port also wants to test a new “Fastpass” virtual queuing system, whereby preloading passport and cargo information would increase the speed of border inspections.709
Speaking at Chatham House on 13 September 2018, Europe Minister Nathalie Loiseau said the French Government would introduce emergency legislation within weeks to protect its citizens from the impact of Britain leaving the EU without a deal in March 2019. She warned that in the absence of any contingency plans, Eurostar trains could be stopped on reaching French territory, and planes from the UK could be prevented from entering French airspace.710
703 Newsnowfinland, Interior Minister: No guarantees for Brits in Finland if Brexit deal fails, 17 October 2018
704 The Express, Brexit no deal MAPPED: How EU countries are secretly preparing for no deal UK exit from EU, 20 July 2018
705 France24, France and Germany are making contingency plans for a no-deal Brexit, with Paris looking at residency issues and Berlin examining medical supply chains with the UK, 29 August 2018
707 The Local Fr, No-deal Brexit: French government makes contingency plans for Brits living in France, 28 August 2018
708 The French customs authority has produced detailed online information (in French) for businesses on how to prepare for Brexit.
709 ‘Dover-Calais ‘facing economic catastrophe’ due to Brexit’, Guardian, 17 July 2018
710 See also Independent, Eurostar will not run if there is a no-deal Brexit, French Europe minister warns, 13 September 2018; EurActiv, Hard Brexit may stop Eurostar trains entering France: French minister, 14 September 2018
She also said that France was against a “blindfold Brexit”, in which there would be a withdrawal agreement but key details of the future UK-EU relationship would be deferred until the UK had left the EU. She said:
We have to have a clear sense of the balance of rights and obligations on the future relations between the UK and the EU27. Details will be worked out afterwards, but it would be to the benefit of neither the UK or the EU27 to remain vague on what is going to be our future relations at the moment of leaving.
Loiseau added that there was “a need for clarity and perspective for our fellow citizens, for our businesses”. She also said that those who had suggested the significance of the Irish border was being exaggerated were being irresponsible, stressing the need for a legal backstop to avoid a hard border in Ireland. She insisted: “we cannot wake up on 30 March to tell our Irish colleagues we don’t have a solution and we must go back to a hard border”.711
In October the Government published a draft bill providing for measures to be taken in the event of ‘no deal’ to reinstate checks on goods and passengers going to and from the UK, and inspections of food, plants and live animals. BBC News summarised the Bill.712
The Senate debated Brexit preparedness on 6 November.
On 17 January 2019 Prime Minister Édouard Philippe announced that the Government would introduce five proposals under an emergency procedure as part of its no-deal Brexit planning and the triggering of €50 million preparedness fund for infrastructure at ports and airports so that they will be operational form 30 March.713
The Government adopted a measure on trade in the defence and space sector and on 6 February 2019 three sets of emergency measures on citizens’ rights, financial services and road transport that will enter into force if there is no deal.
UK citizens residing in France will have one year to obtain a residence permit under a simplified application process. They will be granted the same health coverage they currently have as EU citizens for two years after Brexit day.
There will be continued access to interbank settlement systems and existing insurance contracts with UK companies will remain valid. The current contractual framework for some products (e.g. derivatives) will be adapted.
Road transport operations by UK companies will continue.
711 The Guardian, France may stop trains and planes from UK under no-deal Brexit, 13 September 2018.
712 BBC News, Reality Check: What are EU countries doing to prepare for a no-deal Brexit? 6 November 2018
713 Prime Minister, Communiqué de Presse, 17 January 2019
Germany’s preparations for Brexit have included “the recruitment of additional personnel to deal with a less open economic relationship with the UK”.714
Although traditionally it is the Chancellor’s office that deals with EU policy, there is a cross-ministerial Brexit Task Force headed by the Foreign Ministry and a dedicated Brexit team in the Finance Ministry.
In 2017 the Deutscher Industrie und Handelskammertag (Association of German Chambers of Industry and Commerce) looked at the possible impact of Brexit on German business:
In the estimation of German companies, the withdrawal of the United Kingdom from the European Union will represent a significant drag on the trade of goods and services. The business outlook of companies which are engaged in trade with the United Kingdom is worsening significantly, as expected cost burdens due to taxes and tariffs and increasing bureaucratic hurdles at Europe’s new borders will negatively affect business on both sides. The magnitude of this effect largely depends on negotiations between the United Kingdom and the EU. Regardless of the specific outcome of these negotiations, almost one in every ten companies is already planning to shift investments away from the UK because of Brexit and towards Germany or other countries within the EU internal market.715
Many German businesses have been preparing for Brexit, including for the possibility of a no-deal Brexit. Deutsche Welle looked at some of their “worst scenario” planning:
Among other measures companies are setting up new facilities, looking for other suppliers that operate within the single market and are hiring people in order to process goods through customs […]. They are even setting up new servers because they are uncertain about “whether the free flow of data is still possible with the UK and the EU”.716
By contrast, the Financial Times commented in May 2018 that Germany did not think much of the UK’s preparations:
Certain themes crop up regularly in such articles and conversations with Germans about Brexit. The first is sheer amazement at how ill-prepared British politicians were for the talks, how ignorant they were of basic facts about how the EU works and, consequently, how unrealistic their negotiating positions have been.717
Brexit transition law
Preparations for Brexit have included managing the status of the estimated 100,000 British citizens living in Germany and Germans living in the UK.
714 BBC News, Reality Check: What are EU countries doing to prepare for a no-deal Brexit? 6 November 2018
715 The Impact of Brexit on German Businesses. Results of the IHK Business Survey, Going International 2017, March 2017
716 Deutsche Welle, Growing unease over Brexit in German business community, 28 June 2018
717 Financial Times, Germans see Brexit as a UK own goal, 1 May 2018
In July Germany published a draft law, the Brexit-Übergangsgesetz (Brexit Transition Act), which provides that during the transition period the UK would be deemed to be an EU Member State for all purposes of German Federal Law (though not state law). In May there were reports of record numbers of Britons applying for German citizenship718 and the new law would also allow qualifying Britons living in Germany to become German citizens during the post-Brexit transition period.719 The German Cabinet approved the bill on 5 September 2018 and it will now go to the Bundestag.720 The German Foreign Ministry outlined the wider purpose of the Bill and the citizenship provision as follows:
The main aim of the bill is to create legal clarity for the transition period as regards provisions of federal law that refer to membership of the EU. The bill contains a clear and simple transitional rule for the transition period: wherever federal law refers to the EU Member States, this will also include the United Kingdom as long as none of the stated exceptions apply.
The bill also includes a provision to help British and German citizens who apply for citizenship of the other country before the end of the transition period. Under this provision, they will be allowed to retain their original citizenship even if the decision on their naturalisation is made after the end of the transition period. In such cases, dual citizenship will be tolerated under certain conditions.721
On 17 January 2019 the Bill was introduced in the German Bundestag. It is intended to enter into force on the same date as the Withdrawal Agreement, so its provisions will not apply if there is no withdrawal agreement.
The Federal Ministry of the Interior, Building and Community has FAQs on right of residence in the context of Brexit in which it sets out provisions for UK residents in Germany with and without a deal.
In July Georgios Katrougalos, Greece’s alternate foreign minister, said the Government was studying the “improbable” scenario of no deal and was trying to estimate the possible consequences and taking the necessary measures.722 A Greek Government working paper has warned that in the event of a no-deal Brexit, the financial fallout from a shortfall in the EU budget up to 2020 could leave Greece facing “increased financial and political instability”. The paper proposed that in the event of no deal,
718 See, for example, Deutsche Welle, Brexit causes record number of Britons to be granted German citizenship, 23 May 2018
719 See Brexit Legal, Germany Provides Draft of Brexit Implementation Act, Jens Rinze, 26 July 2018
720 The act must be approved by the Bundestag with the consent of the Bundesrat.
721 Auswärtiges Amt, Brexit transition act, 5 September 2018
722 Bloomberg, How Europe Is Bracing for Messy Brexit: Dogs, Drones, Do Nothing, 19 July 2018
Greece should seek a special agreement with the EU, as it would be unable to finance a budgetary shortfall through national funding.
After the UK vote the Irish Government announced a range of contingency plans to address the potential impacts of the withdrawal process.724 These included prioritising British-Irish relations, Northern Ireland, trade, investment, North-South border impacts, competitiveness and macro–economic issues, research/innovation funding and energy.
In a statement on 17 January 2017, the Irish Government said it was “acutely” aware of the possible risks to the Irish economy of Brexit, but that it was also aware of potential “economic opportunities”, including in terms of mobile investment:
Bids for the EU agencies currently located in London—the European Medicines Board and the European Banking Authority have already been announced and the State enterprise agencies are actively pursuing opportunities for increased investment, business and job creation in Ireland.725
On 23 January 2017, the Guardian reported comments from Prime Minister Kenny that Ireland wanted a special provision in any Brexit deal to allow Northern Ireland to rejoin the EU should it be united with the Republic of Ireland:
In other words, that in such future time, whenever that might be, were it [reunification] to occur, that the north of Ireland would have ease of access to join as a member of the European Union again […] We want that language inserted into the negotiated treaty, the negotiated outcome, whenever that might occur.726
The Irish Government’s 2018 National Risk Assessment – Overview of Strategic Risks analysed a range of Brexit-related risks for Ireland and concluded:
While the Irish Government will continue to do all in its power on both a domestic and European front to work for a Brexit agreement in line with Irish interests, the risks to our interests, our trade, our economy at both the macro and micro level8 , and our relationship with Northern Ireland, and the UK which could emerge from potential Brexits are manifold and significant, and it is likely that Brexit will remain one of the most significant risks facing this country over the coming years.
In July 2018 Leo Varadkar said his Government was making contingency plans for a no-deal Brexit, including extra customs officers and veterinary
723 Daily Telegraph, Greece warns ‘no-deal’ Brexit would plunge country into ‘financial and political instability, 17 August 2018
724 Department of the Taoiseach, Irish Government Brexit Contingency Plans Announced”, 24 June 2016
725 Department of the Taoiseach, Government Statement on Brexit, 17 January 2017
726 The Guardian, Irish Leader Calls for United Ireland Provision in Brexit Deal, 23 February 2017
inspectors to deal with changes in trade rules.
727 Ireland also considered whether to relocate part of the emergency oil stocks that it stores at UK refineries back to Ireland or to other EU countries.728 The Government was also reported to be drawing up plans to stockpile insulin, vaccinations and other medical supplies.729
Foreign Affairs Minister Simon Coveney presented Brexit contingency plans to the Cabinet on 18 July 2018.730 Speaking after the Cabinet meeting, the Taoiseach said:
The key decisions are particularly focused on areas where the Government has direct responsibility and on measures that need to be taken on an East-West basis, such as customs and veterinary controls at ports and airports. The Government also reiterated its position today that it would not countenance a return of a border on the island under any circumstances, including in the event of a hard Brexit.731
Simon Coveney said a “huge amount of work has been underway across Government and its agencies for many months”, and that the Government would also be carrying out preparations “on an EU-wide basis, in cooperation with our EU partners”.732 The Government has held public events on Brexit, including road shows called ‘Getting Ireland Brexit Ready’.
Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe made several announcements in the Budget, “including investing 300m euros (£260m) in training schemes for sectors that could be hit by Brexit”.733 Open Europe reported in August 2018:
Other measures include setting up a new system on the Irish stock exchange to settle shares and securities, lobby the EU Commission to relax state aid rules, offer businesses a ‘Be Prepared’ grant of up to €5,000 and making sure Irish pensioners with a UK pension continue to receive it.734
In the Oireachtas on 4 October 2018 Deputy Maurice Quinlivan (Sinn Féin) asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade about contingency plans “for businesses for a situation in which the landbridge through Britain becomes unusable for Irish lorries travelling to and from the Continent” [30826/18]. Simon Coveney replied in some detail about the work of the Government’s Landbridge Project Group, concluding.
Our work on the landbridge must also include the possibility of a no-deal or worse-case outcome.
727 See The Telegraph, Brussels warns EU countries: get ready for a no-deal Brexit, 19 July 2018
728 Sunday Independent, Ireland set to remove oil reserves from Britain as Brexit deadline looms closer, 15 July 2018, and Cabinet to move Irish oil reserve from UK, 15 July 2018
729 Irish World, ‘No deal’ will mean ‘no drugs’, 1 August 2018
730 See RTÉ, 1,000 new customs and veterinary inspectors to be hired, 20 July 2018
731 Merrion Street, Irish Government News Service, Cabinet Agrees Brexit Preparedness Measures, 18 July 2018
733 BBC News, Reality Check: What are EU countries doing to prepare for a no-deal Brexit? 6 November 2018
734 Open Europe, The view from Brussels: How are the EU27 preparing for a ‘No Deal’ Brexit? Pieter Cleppe, 30 August 2018
To this end, relevant Departments have now been tasked by the Government to roll out detailed Action Plans with a view to advancing, as appropriate, the mitigating measures which have been identified in the areas of their responsibility from the planning to the implementation phase. In line with this approach, the Government has already approved a number of key Brexit preparedness measures focused on East-West trade which will also take account of the continued use of the landbridge.
In mid-December the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade published its Contingency Action Plan, ‘Preparing for the withdrawal of the United Kingdom from the European Union on 29 March 2019 (postponed to 31 January 2020, with a transitional period to effective withdrawal on 31 December 2020)’. The Government states in the introduction that it “recognises that, given the proximity of the formal date for UK exit from the EU of 29 March 2019 (postponed to 31 January 2020, with a transitional period to effective withdrawal on 31 December 2020), the prospect of a no deal Brexit is very real”. It points to “the real possibility of a no deal Brexit” and sets out the Government’s approach. It also states:
The challenges posed by a no deal Brexit require an understanding of the same issues as for an orderly Brexit, although of course they arise in a very different context and in a much shorter timeframe. In many significant ways, a no deal Brexit would pose unique, unprecedented and extremely difficult challenges for the EU, including Ireland, and especially the UK.
It refers to the need for “an immediate focus on crisis management and possible temporary solutions (political, economic, administrative, legislative and communication), which would be rapidly implemented until the necessary longer-term adjustments are in place”. It acknowledges that of all the EU Member States, Ireland “could be
the most adversely affected” by Brexit and “to the greatest extent in a no deal scenario”. The Plan sets out details of issues and panned measures across sectors.
The Government’s latest Brexit Contingency and Preparedness Update was published on 15 January 2019:
Today Government agreed that, aside from the European Parliament Elections (Amendment) Bill 2018 and the Regulated Professions (Health and Social Care) (Amendment) Bill, legislation across different sectors be grouped into one omnibus Bill, in order to assist with the speed of passage through the Houses.
The Bill, comprising 17 Parts, will focus on the broad themes of protecting the citizen, and supporting the economy, enterprise and jobs. Amendments to the Interpretation Act 2005, which would be required in the event of an orderly Brexit with a transition period, will also be included. The work on primary legislation will be complemented by responses in secondary legislation through the adoption of a range of Statutory Instruments.
Proposed Miscellaneous Provisions (Withdrawal of the United Kingdom from the European Union on 29 March 2019 (postponed to 31 January 2020, with a transitional period to effective withdrawal on 31 December 2020)) Bill Omnibus Bill with 17 parts focused on the broad theme of protecting the citizen, and supporting the economy, enterprise and jobs.
Italy considers a no-deal Brexit unlikely. Guglielmo Pichi, Under Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, thought there would be a deal “because it is the interest of both parties”.735
However, on 20 December 2018 Italy announced it was preparing legislation to allow British citizens resident in Italy after Brexit, on
735 Interview on BBC Today programme, 19 September 2018
application, to continue to be legally resident with their existing rights to work, if there is no deal.
Mr Muscat said his Government had set up a Brexit task force on which the Opposition also sat, which was coordinating Malta’s Brexit preparations. The Times of Malta reported:
Dr Muscat said the government did not want to be fatalistic about Brexit, but was already preparing for worst case scenarios.
“Even in the worst possible case, our health agreement with the UK will remain,” he said, adding that Malta was not only an EU member state, but also a member of the Commonwealth.
The Customs Department, Dr Muscat said, was among the most prepared to deal with a Brexit, and so he was confident in its ability to manage such a transition.737
The Dutch government has carried out several assessments of the impact of Brexit on the Netherlands, including the rights of Dutch citizens, the economy and medical sector.738 In the State Opening of Parliament in September 2017, Bert Koenders emphasised that in the Brexit negotiations, “the main priority should be to clarify the rights of EU citizens, eliminate uncertainty for businesses and ensure that existing financial obligations are met”.739
The Dutch government has planned for extra officials, mostly in the port of Rotterdam, “to prepare for the extra bureaucracy required for British goods to go through customs before entering the EU after Brexit”. 740 According to the New York Times (19 July), “[t]he Dutch government is hiring nearly 1,000 customs officials”. The Government is also recruiting up to 90 veterinarians for animal and food inspections and warehouses for inspection are being considered.741
The Government’s web-based ‘Brexit impact scanner’ can be used by SMEs to assess their exposure to potential problems related to Brexit, and it offers €2,500 ’vouchers’ for small companies to obtain independent advice about the Brexit implications for their business.
736 See British in Italy, 20 December 2018
737 Times of Malta, Muscat confident of post-Brexit agreement between Malta and the UK, 23 October 2018
738 Government of the Netherlands, What impact will Brexit have? [accessed 2 October 2018]
739 Government of the Netherlands ,Foreign Affairs Budget 2018 [accessed 2 October 2018]
740 Reuters, Dutch cabinet drafting ‘playbook’ for chaotic Brexit: parliament, 9 July 2018
741 New York Times, How E.U. Is Getting Ready for Chaos in a Worst-Case Brexit,19 July 2018
The UK being the Netherlands’ third largest trading partner, the Dutch customs authorities are expecting an increase of the number of customs operations by a third and are expanding the staff capacity by 20%.742
MLex reported on 4 September on research for the Dutch Government by Kantar Public that concluded that around 18% of Dutch companies doing business with the UK are “actively preparing for Brexit”, up from 10% in 2017. The study was carried out in the period 28 June – 3 July among 245 companies doing business with the UK.743
A letter from the Minister of Foreign Affairs to the House of Representatives, 7 September 2018, sets out the state of preparation for Brexit (contingency planning and preparedness at national and EU level). The Government website provides information for citizens and businesses on how to prepare for Brexit.
Several ministries have been analysing the potential impact of no deal. “The government is determining how many additional customs agents will be required and is investigating measures to limit the risks to business”.744 Deputy Foreign Minister Szymański said in July that Poland had been “making preparations to assess a ‘no deal’ Brexit both from a financial point of view, as well as with regard to business, administration and citizens’ rights”.745
The Visegrad Group website reported on the Government’s preparations for business:
Poland’s Ministry of Entrepreneurship and Technology (MPiT) wants to prepare companies, accountants and tax advisors for the UK’s departure from the EU. It has started a mailing campaign to help them adapt to Brexit-related changes. “The results of the negotiations concerning the exit of Great Britain from the EU are still unknown”, the ministry noted. “Polish businesspeople should therefore prepare for several possible scenarios. Each of the variants means great changes for businesses that import and export goods and services to and from Great Britain or are part of the production-delivery chain which ends there”, it added.746
According to Bloomberg, Portugal is not expecting major changes or increases in staff at the ports of Sines and Lisbon from any kind of Brexit: “Almost three-quarters of goods trading at the port of Sines — the nation’s
742 De Volkskrant, Nederlandse Douane nog niet klaar voor Brexit, honderden extra mensen nodig: ‘Het effect is echt groot, (The Netherlands Customs administration not yet ready for Brexit, need more people: ‘The effects are major’), 16 February 2018
743 See also DutchNews, Just one in five Dutch firms are ready for Brexit, ministry says, 4 September 2018
744 Bloomberg, How Europe Is Bracing for Messy Brexit: Dogs, Drones, Do Nothing, 19 July 2018
745 Poland in English, Poland preparing for ‘no deal’ Brexit: deputy minister, 20 July 2018
746 Visegrad Group, Ministry aims to ready firms, accountants and tax advisors for Brexit, 25 October 2018
244 What if there’s no Brexit deal?
largest — is with countries outside the EU, so it’s already well equipped to deal with shipments to and from non-EU nations”.
A Reuters report said Portugal was “actively courting wealthy British to move and invest there in the run up to Brexit”.748 There have also been bilateral initiatives, such as consolidating an Anglo-Portuguese science partnership involving Imperial College.749
A report by the Confederation of Portuguese Business (CIP) that estimated Portuguese exports to the UK could fall by more than 25%. It recommended that the Government and industry “step up efforts to promote Portugal in the British market, particularly for sectors most at risk such as tourism, electronics and the auto industry”.750
An Elcano policy paper in May 2018 stated that in preparation for a possible no deal:
… it is important for Spanish companies to design contingency plans for coping with a reduction in business, whether in terms of preparing for changes in the regulatory framework or seeking alternative customers and suppliers in other markets, both within and beyond the EU.751
It also noted the possible effects on the Spanish tourism industry (“Spain receives millions of British tourists every year, accounting for almost a quarter of visitors to the country”):
it is important that the Spanish tourism industry prepares for a possible reduction in British visits and draws up contingency plans both with the Spanish authorities and with British tour operators, who are equally dependent on tourism to Spain.
Fears about the effects on tourism have continued.752 On 6 November the Independent reported that Spanish tourism Minister Reyes Maroto is meeting UK tour operators “to discuss contingency plans to ensure millions of British tourists can still visit her country in the event of a no-deal Brexit”.753
According to BBC News, Spain was “taking the mañana approach to planning for a no-deal Brexit”. 754 Economy Minister Nadia Calvino said on 29 October in London that “for the time being, nothing was being done to
747 Bloomberg, How Europe Is Bracing for Messy Brexit: Dogs, Drones, Do Nothing, 19 July 2018
748 Reuters, Portugal wants Britain to welcome all EU migrants after Brexit, 26 July 2018
749 Portugal resident.com, Portugal and UK “prepare to reinforce scientific collaboration” ahead of Brexit, 24 April 2018
750 Politico, Portuguese business pushes for Brexit deal, 31 October 2018
751 Spain and the prospect of Brexit, Salvador Llaudes, Ignacio Molina, Miguel Otero Iglesias & Federico Steinberg, May 2018
752 See, e.g. The Express, ‘UK is our main market!’ Spain in Brexit PANIC as tourist boss warns of no deal DISASTER, 11 October 2018
753 The Independent, Spain seeks contingency plans with UK tour operators over fears of no-deal Brexit, 6 November 2018
754 BBC News, Reality Check: What are EU countries doing to prepare for a no-deal Brexit? 6 November 2018
prepare for no deal. There is no written plan or anything formal and […] the government was waiting another few weeks before planning for a no-deal scenario”.
But the Government has woken up to the need for Brexit planning, including contingency planning for a possible no-deal outcome. Open Europe reported:
Spain’s government has been running an analysis of the different potential outcomes of the Brexit talks, including the ‘cliff-edge’ scenario, based on input from companies and business groups. It has also been working on a plan to shield its tourism industry from any disruption to air travel and will allow UK citizens to use their existing Spanish ID as a post-Brexit entitlement paper, which is a more flexible arrangement than the one France has in mind.755
Politico reported on 2 November 2018 that “Only 31 percent of Spanish companies have made contingency plans for Brexit, and just 19 percent have started implementing those plans, according to a survey of 2,000 executives conducted by KPMG in coordination with the CEOE, Spain’s biggest business lobby”.756 But the report went on to outline Government initiatives to help business – some of which are in denial – to prepare for Brexit:
Industry and Commerce Minister Reyes Maroto this week announced a series of actions aimed at “helping companies prepare contingency plans” for Brexit, including informational meetings with business leaders and a public website.
“We have to inform companies that any scenario can occur,” she told reporters. “Some [companies] still convey to us hopes that nothing will happen, and the reality is that something is going to happen.”
In the Spanish Parliament Prime Minister Sánchez and Foreign Minister Borrell have emphasised the need for public administration and business leaders to make “their own contingency plans” to face “any kind of scenario that can occur after March 29, 2019”. Deputy Prime Minister Carmen Calvo has been “coordinating plans across all government departments”, preparing to hire extra customs officers and “laying out urgent regulations on trade protocols or phytosanitary standards”.757
On 28 December Prime Minister Sánchez reassured British citizens living in Spain (estimated at 300,000) that their rights would not change after Brexit, and would be preserved “whatever the scenario” on condition that Spaniards living in the UK (estimated at 116,000) had the same reassurances.758
On 15 January 2019 the Spanish Government launched a new page on its Brexit website to provide information for citizens and economic operators
755 Open Europe, The view from Brussels: How are the EU27 preparing for a ‘No Deal’ Brexit? 30 August 2018
756 Politico, Madrid tells businesses to get ready for (any) Brexit, 2 November 2018
757 Politico, ibid
758 Reuters, Brexit won’t affect Spain-based Britons’ rights, PM Sanchez says, 28 December 2018
on how to prepare for a no-deal UK exit and on the contingency measures adopted at national and international levels.
On 21 January the UK and Spain signed a treaty giving UK citizens living in Spain and Spanish citizens living in the UK the right to vote and stand for office in local elections after Brexit.
The Government (and later Parliament) is due to approve a decree in February which will include regulations to be activated in the event of a no-deal Brexit.
In 2017 the Swedish Government asked four expert agencies to analyse the consequences of Brexit in a few specific areas. Their conclusions are summarised on the Swedish Government website. It has established a ‘preparedness group’ to look into the potential consequences of no deal, but is hopeful of a deal.760
Sweden’s financial regulator, Finansinspektionen (FI), has called on “investors clearing derivatives through London “to prepare for their counterparties to be considered unauthorised after the UK leaves the EU in March”.761 The FI analysis, Consequences of Brexit for the Swedish Financial Market (21 June 2018) recommended that investors “assess the likely consequences for liquidity and solvency, and take capital and liquidity planning into account”, and that companies should the possible effects of Brexit on their business models and strategies, and how to “manage potential adverse effects”.762 The Swedish Chamber of Commerce for the UK has issued guidance, Brexit – what is it, and how will it affect my business? (30 October 2018) on its website.
The Government has established a website on its Brexit policy and pages on Preparations for UK withdrawal and contingency planning for a ‘no-deal’ scenario.
759 Unofficial translation of Government web page on Brexit. See also El País (in English), Spanish government launches website to warn about effects of Brexit, 15 January 2019.
760 The Guardian, ibid
761 IPE, Swedish watchdog urges preparation for ‘hard’ Brexit, 24 October 2018
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