The European Commission finished its preparations for a no deal divorce with the UK, a prospect that seems increasingly likely, according to the bloc’s latest assessment on Monday.
At the start of another crucial week for Brexit, UK Prime Minister Theresa May must decide if her EU-UK Withdrawal Agreement will be put on a third vote this week, especially after Brussels agreed to delay Brexit by two weeks.
France, The Netherlands, and Belgium have between them hired 2,000 new customs officers to cope with the no-deal scenario. These officers will staff 20 new border posts that have been built in those three member states, in addition to Ireland, Spain and Denmark.
All are confident they’ll have necessary measures in place by March 29,” writes the EU executive’s plan.
Alternative backstop or ‘hard border’?
Specifically on the Irish border status and whether there is going to be visible checkpoints there, the EU official added that “controls have to be done where they belong” but “that doesn’t mean we’d want to see visible infrastructure. We’re working very closely with the Irish authorities to try and perform controls away from the border if at all possible.”
“In a no deal scenario there would be disruptions to supply chains and trade,” the EU said in response to the question about an alternative Irish backstop, adding that the bloc is, “working with Irish authorities so controls can be the least intrusive possible. But this is still a situation that is fundamentally different from the situation with the Withdrawal Agreement.”
The European Commission suggests there will be some form of a hard border on the island of Ireland if there’s no deal. Brussels is actively working with Dublin to streamline the border checks, but they will not remain 100% open.