Many EU countries more advanced with no-deal Brexit legislation than Ireland
Some already have laws giving government special powers should UK crash out
Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation Heather Humphreys meeting EU competition commissioner Margrethe Vestager in Dublin yesterday as preparations for Brexit intensify. Photograph: Maxwells
As the Government publishes a summary of the Brexit omnibus Bill to be put before the Oireachtas in late February, a survey of other EU countries affected by Brexit shows many are more advanced in bringing forward Brexit legislation to cater for a no-deal outcome.
Many countries have already introduced legislation, which is currently before their parliaments. Some have introduced legislation to give their governments special powers to act in the case of a no-deal Brexit.
The Dutch government published its omnibus Brexit legislation as far back as last November. It has two elements. The first is a general provision that allows the administration to act by government or ministerial decree when required, without the need for an act of parliament, “and to prevent chaos or an emergency”, a spokesman said. The second is a series of articles that regulate the fact that the UK would become a third country.
“These articles are required both in a deal and in a no-deal scenario,” the government said. “For example: article II stipulates that UK drivers’ licences will no longer be considered as licences issued by a member state, but will be regarded as a licence issued by a third country.”
France has drawn up five “ordinances”, which allow the government to make regulations which will then be ratified by parliament, a spokesman said. The first was presented to parliament this week.
Spain has also drawn up a series of “decrees” which must be approved but cannot be amended by parliament.
In Sweden, legislative proposals have been published to deal with some aspects of Brexit and others are being prepared. “The government offices and the interagency process have at least the last 12 months been very active – as late as this morning I participated in a three-hour meeting dealing with these questions,” said the Swedish ambassador in Dublin, Lars Wahlund.
The Danish parliament has not passed any laws yet, a spokesman said, but “the government has announced its readiness to present legislation by February if necessary specifically regarding citizens’ rights”.
In Finland, the prime minister’s office has requested plans for a no-deal scenario by next week.
Contacts with foreign ministries and embassies in Dublin this week demonstrate that support for Ireland is widespread and firm. Virtually all the offices which responded expressed their support for Ireland, for the withdrawal agreement and the backstop. However, many were also careful to mention that in the event of a no-deal outcome, while they supported the Irish position that there should be no return to a hard border, it would also be necessary to protect the single market.
“I think it is quite obvious that there has to be an EU-border somewhere,” said one ambassador. “You chose where. To protect the internal market. It might be possible to mitigate it with the creativity of the commission, but is hard to avoid altogether.”