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EU must proceed with Brexit no-deal contingency plans, Irish PM Martin says, as end of UK transition looms

EU must proceed with Brexit no-deal contingency plans, Irish PM Martin says, as end of UK transition looms
Irish PM Micheal Martin has said the European Union must now proceed with preparations for a no-deal outcome, while EU negotiator Michel Barnier warned Brexit talks may be thrust into crisis over the UK’s legislation.

“We are in the final critical phases,” Martin told parliament on Wednesday, while speaking about the stalled Brexit talks. “One month out from the end of transition, we have reached a point in time where prudence demands we must proceed with preparations for EU contingency measures in case of no deal.”

The PM added that the issue may be discussed in Brussels in the coming week.

Temporary contingency measures might include “short-term rights for EU-UK flights to continue and for hauliers to transport goods across the English Channel,” the Financial Times reported on Monday, adding that the European Commission had refused to say when, or if, such plans would be presented.

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Martin also expressed hope that the EU’s chief negotiator, Barnier, “will use every best endeavour and every opportunity this week to try and deliver a deal.”

Meanwhile, Barnier said on Wednesday that talks on future EU-UK ties would be in crisis if Britain introduced fresh legislation as planned next week, which breaches the Northern Ireland Protocol.

Speaking with EU ambassadors in the morning, he said if the proposed Finance Bill contained clauses which “breached international law” there would be a complete breakdown in trust between Brussels and London, according to an RTE report.

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The UK Finance Bill is expected next week and could reportedly contain clauses giving the government the powers to unilaterally decide on elements of the Northern Ireland Protocol. They may include the potential imposition of tariffs on goods moving from Britain to Northern Ireland.

Other new British legislation, the Internal Market Bill, would also overturn parts of the protocol, and the EU has already taken legal action against the UK. That bill is likely to return to Parliament next week, and a spokesman for PM Boris Johnson said on Wednesday that the government’s stance on the clauses remains unchanged as they were necessary to provide “a legal safety net.”

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