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Brexit: EU sets out plans in case trade talks with UK fail

 Boris Johnson and Ursula von der Leyen in Brussels - 9 December


The EU has published contingency plans in case of the possible collapse of Brexit trade talks with the UK.

The plans aim to ensure smooth UK-EU air and road travel, as well as allowing the possibility of fishing access to each other's waters.

They come after talks between UK PM Boris Johnson and EU chief Ursula von der Leyen aimed at ending a deadlock over the deal ended without agreement.

The UK is due to stop following EU trading rules on 31 December.

The UK left the EU at the end of January this year, but a transition period of 11 months followed to allow the two sides to try to negotiate a deal.

The prime minister's spokesman said such a statement from the EU had been expected and that the government had already set out its own plans in the event a trade deal could not be reached.

The main obstacles continue to be access to fishing waters, rules about subsidising businesses and how any new deal would be policed.

The EU's contingency plans

A statement by the European Commission - the EU executive - published on Thursday said there was currently "significant uncertainty" about whether a deal would be in place by 1 January.

"Our responsibility is to be prepared for all eventualities, including not having a deal in place," Ms von der Leyen said.

Some sectors would be disproportionately affected, the commission said, adding that it was proposing four contingency measures "to mitigate some of the significant disruptions" if a deal were not in place:

  • To ensure the provision of "certain air services" between the UK and EU for six months, provided the UK does the same
  • To allow aviation safety certificates to be used in EU aircraft without disruption to avoid grounding
  • To ensure basic connectivity for road freight and passenger transport for six months, provided the UK does the same
  • To allow the possibility of reciprocal fishing access for UK and EU vessels in each other's waters for one year, or until an agreement is reached

Reacting to the plans, Boris Johnson's spokesman said the UK government would look "very closely at the details" and that negotiators were "continuing to work to see if the two sides could bridge the remaining gaps".

The spokesman added that the government "had been clear throughout it would not agree to anything that did not respect UK sovereignty"

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