Wednesday 18 September 2019

Commission plans bail-outs in countdown to UK no-deal

Phil Hogan: Commissioner will attend EU meeting in Brussels. Photo: Reuters
Phil Hogan: Commissioner will attend EU meeting in Brussels. Photo: Reuters
John Downing

John Downing

The European Commission will today step up its preparations for a no-deal Brexit as Brussels officials insisted the UK is not engaged in serious efforts to find a last-minute deal.

With 56 days to go to the deadline of October 31, the policy-guiding EU executive will publish its sixth communication on the issue after its weekly meeting in Brussels.

This document will urge every interested person across the 27 member states to prepare on the assumption of a UK crash-out.

The commission will include a checklist to help companies assess how effective their Brexit preparations are.

Shocks

Irish Commissioner Phil Hogan was due to return from a visit to Warsaw for the meeting which will also endorse the use of two major funds to help offset the economic shocks of Brexit.

These are the European Solidarity Fund, which was already used to fund workers who lost their jobs in Waterford Glass and the Dell plant in Limerick, and the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund.

The second fund was primarily set up to mitigate damage from natural disasters but the commissioners look set to agree its deployment for the Brexit fallout.

They will also review how to cope with the potential loss of UK EU budget contributions of around €11bn next year. Options include making some budget savings and cuts and also the prospect of seeking the other better-off member states, including Ireland, to help make up the shortfall.

The prestigious EU news service, Politico, yesterday noted that the EU Budget Commissioner Günther Oettinger had said in the past that half of the UK shortfall would be dealt with by cuts with extra contributions making up the other half.

The commissioners will also receive an update from chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier on the latest developments.

Already Mr Barnier has publicly said he is not optimistic a no deal can be avoided - but he has at all times stressed the EU is ready to negotiate with London.

Separately, the commission said it wanted a concrete proposal from Britain to resolve the deadlock over Brexit as soon as possible.

A spokeswoman said Brussels will engage with Britain on any constructive proposals.

Brussels diplomats rejected UK claims of progress on talks and denied claims by Mr Johnson that a deal is close.

Irish Independent

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