BRUSSELS (Reuters) - The European Commission said on Tuesday it intended to adopt by the end of December all the legislation necessary to prepare the EU for a British exit without a divorce agreement should it be necessary by Brexit day on March 29.
The EU executive is in charge of negotiating a departure agreement with Britain on behalf of the 27 countries remaining in the EU after Britain leaves.
As Britain’s exit date comes closer and negotiations on the withdrawal treaty have not yet been completed, the Commission issued a document on Tuesday on the preparations the EU would have to take in case a divorce agreement could not be reached.
“The draft Withdrawal Agreement constitutes the best option for the withdrawal. In the absence of a Withdrawal Agreement, the European Union will act to protect its interests, and should display a united and coordinated approach in all areas,” the Commission said.
In London, the BBC said the EU and Britain had agreed a draft Brexit divorce deal text and Prime Minister Theresa May would present the agreement to her senior ministers on Wednesday. Any deal has to be approved by parliament.
The Commission said it intended to propose all necessary legislative measures and adopt all the legal acts required for preparing the EU for Britain crashing out without a divorce deal before Dec 31.
It said this deadline would give the European Parliament and EU governments the time needed to complete the procedures in time for Brexit day.
The Commission said the time needed for these procedure could not be contracted because EU treaties provided for an eight-week period for the consultation of national parliaments while some legal acts were subject to mandatory scrutiny by the European Parliament and governments.
It said the risks of financial instability in the event of a no-deal Brexit have “diminished significantly” due to ongoing contingency preparations, though such a scenario could still pose risks for cleared derivatives.
Announcing its latest contingency plans for a no-deal Brexit, the EU’s executive said it was looking at temporary bridging solutions to mitigate disruption in key areas.
On air traffic, the Commission said it would propose extending current rules to allow UK airlines to land in EU territory and take off from its airports, but that this was conditional on Britain applying equivalent measures for carriers from the bloc.
For road transport, however, the Commission said its unilateral contingency measures “would allow for considerably less traffic than what currently takes place between the Union and the United Kingdom”.
Editing by Richard Balmforth