EU warns member states to plan for 'no deal' Brexit following Theresa May's Chequers deal


The European Commission has warned EU member states to step up planning for a ‘no deal’ Brexit following the publication of Theresa May’s Chequers deal with her Cabinet.

The new 15-page document, seen by Ireland’s public broadcaster RTÉ, lays out contingency planning guidelines on preparing for Britain crashing out without an agreement in March.

The action plan, drawn up by a new EU preparedness taskforce, warns of long queues for lorries at ports, and serious potential consequences for pharmaceuticals, financial services and aviation.

​RTÉ says the document was written on Wednesday, after the substance of Ms May’s Chequers plan was published, though before it was formalised in technical terms into the UK government white paper on Thursday.

It was also drawn up just 48 hours after the resignation of Ms May’s chief Brexit negotiator David Davis and her Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson.

“Drawing up contingency plans for the worst possible outcome is not a sign of mistrust in the negotiations,” the document says.  

“The [European] Commission hopes for an agreement and devotes very significant resources and committed efforts to achieve this goal.”

Theresa May met with her Cabinet at Chequers to hash out a policy, bu was hit with resignations(PA)

But it adds: “Negotiations, on the other hand, can fail.”

The document is set to be given to the EU27 ministers when they meet next Friday to discuss the UK white paper proposal at national level.

Ms May’s Brexit new plan has been painted as a capitulation to the EU by Brexiteers back in Westminster, but in Brussels the proposal appears to be going down differently. The European Parliament on Thursday threatened to veto any agreement if the UK did not do more prevent a hard border with Ireland after it leaves the bloc.

The preparedness plan says Brexit’s “consequences will be very real for citizens, professionals and business operators”.

“No progress has been made in agreeing a ‘backstop’ to avoid, independently of the outcome of the negotiations of the future partnership, a hard border on the island of Ireland,” the document reads.

The action by the Commission to prepare for a possible no deal comes after EU leaders agreed to step up preparedness planning at a European Council summit in Brussels last month. 

A motion on Brexit passed by the Council states that the EU urges “member states, Union institutions and all stakeholders to step up their work on preparedness at all levels and for all outcomes” – diplomatic reference to a “no-deal” scenario. 

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