After almost two years of negotiations concerning the exit of the United Kingdom from the EU, the result is still uncertain and the scheduled leave date, 29th March 2019, is getting closer and closer. Most recently the probability of a no-deal Brexit (without agreement) has increased, which is the reason for European institutions and Member States to intensively prepare for this scenario. However, during the last days the likelihood of a possible delay of Britain’s exit has once again been suggested.
After the negotiated withdrawal agreement between the British government and the EU-27 on the process of Brexit had been rejected by the British Parliament by a large majority on 15th January 2019, the time of an orderly Brexit is almost running out. On 14th February 2019, Theresa May lost another vote in the British House of Commons, which was supposed to strengthen her position. Hence, further negotiations leave the Prime Minister with little room for manoeuvre. A final vote in the British Parliament on a revised agreement has now been scheduled for 12th March 2019. Following a recent decision by British Members of Parliament on 27th February 2019, there will be - in case the withdrawal agreement is again rejected by the British Parliament - another vote, which shall decide whether there will be a no-deal Brexit or a delay of the Brexit date. The British Prime Minister has announced that this possible decision will be taken on 14th March 2019.
Brexit delay: EU elections for British population possible
Council President Donald Tusk recently suggested that under the given circumstances a delay would be a rational solution. However, a postponement of the exit date might entail that the United Kingdom at the time of the European Parliament election between 23rd and 26th May 2019 is still a Member of the European Union. This would result in the fact that the European Parliament election would have to take place in Great Britain and Northern Ireland. The law provides that all citizens of the European Union have the right to participate in European Parliament election even if their country leaves the EU shortly after the election.
EU takes measures for the possibility of a no-deal
The European institutions are currently intensively preparing measures to be ready in case a no-deal scenario would occur. In view of the possibility of a no-deal Brexit, the European Commission has examined in detail the EU’s legal provisions since summer 2018. Based on the results, the Commission has launched a no-deal emergency plan to be able to make appropriate preparations by 29th March 2019 in certain sectors, where measures are necessary. These include regulations for example, which shall cushion the considerable impact on rail transport or provisions to continue to guarantee the high level of aviation safety in the airspace of the EU. In respect of social security, a draft regulation of the European Commission is currently going through the legislative process. It shall ensure that citizens of the EU-27 and British nationals, who made use of the freedom of movement within the European Union, will continue to be able to assert their social rights, such as those referring to equality, equal treatment of benefits and aggregation of insurance periods.
Apart from that, Member States take separate measures to be prepared for the consequences of a no-deal Brexit. Austria too adopted this week the “Brexit-Accompanying Act 2019”.
Danger for jobs in the EU and the UK
Safe jobs with good working conditions are a basic requirement of all people in europe. However, the current situation leaves many questions open for affected employees and leads to uncertainty. The General Secretary of the European Trade Union Confederation, Luca Visentini, regards a “no-deal” as a risk to jobs both in the EU and in the United Kingdom. Hence, ETUC supports to either revoke or delay Brexit in order to find a more practicable solution.