EU countries preparing for no-deal Brexit and potential 'chaos'
European Union and Union Jack Flags - JOHN THYS / AFP
EU member states are wargaming strategies for the no-deal Brexit, including the possible resumption of negotiations with the UK after the deadline.
A senior diplomatic source in an influential member state said there was a risk that the two sides were too firmly entrenched in their positions to reach an agreement before the deadline. The senior diplomat admitted the schism would be painful but said he could focus his mind on both sides.
"We will have a time of chaos, but if we have to see how things develop and how much it hurts before politicians come to their senses, so be it," said the diplomat.
"There is nothing that says that there can never be trade negotiations again just because there is no agreement," said the diplomat.
"We could have a scenario where it doesn't work on time, but at some point in the future."
Another EU source insisted that trade negotiations with Brussels would not resume after the non-deal. Instead, the UK would be forced to sign bilateral agreements with individual member states in order to mitigate the economic impact.
The European Commission has pushed for a coordinating role in these bilateral agreements to ensure that they do not harm the interests of other Member States. Other sources said UK-EU trade negotiations would eventually have to resume with the European Commission, which is negotiating on behalf of the bloc, after no deal was reached on Jan. 1.
They cautioned, however, that a chaste Britain returning to the negotiating table would face exactly the same level playing field requirements. The only difference would be that the UK would have less goodwill and leverage, they claimed.
Boris Johnson has announced that he will end the Brexit talks if no agreement is in sight at the EU summit on October 15 before the end of the EU deadline for the end of the month. However, this threat is not taken seriously in Brussels.
The Prime Minister has promised to keep in regular contact with Ursula von der Leyen, President of the European Commission, as the negotiations move towards the finals.
Michel Barnier is expected not to go into the details of possible compromises at the European Council, particularly on fishing rights where the EU has deviated from its initial negotiating position.
France and Denmark are particularly attentive to any suggestion that their fishermen might suffer from Brexit, which will be an inevitable consequence of a compromise on fishing rights.
Despite signs of movement towards a possible compromise on subsidy law, sources on both sides warned that significant gaps still exist to bridge a level playing field and enforcement of the deal. According to sources in Brussels, if enough progress is made by Thursday, EU leaders could call for further intensified negotiations by the end of October, which is the bloc's deadline for the deal.
"Perhaps movement in two of the three areas is enough for the heads of state and government," said the diplomat, "but there will be no agreement without a governance system that is finally agreed."
Diplomatic sources also warned that the Brexit discussions could only lead to an inventory of the state of the talks. Leaders could also reiterate the importance of preparing for a no-deal exit at the end of the transition period on December 31.
"There is sure to be a demonstration of unity and support for Michel Barnier," said a diplomat. Mr Barnier is expected to update the European Ministers at their summit in order to prepare the groundwork for Tuesday's summit.
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