Romania braces for no-deal Brexit as it prepares EU presidency

Written by Martin Banks on 18 December 2018 in News
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Romania says it is “preparing” for a no-deal Brexit as it gears up to take the reins of the EU presidency in January.

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Speaking in Brussels on Tuesday, Romania’s permanent representative to the EU, Luminiţa Odobescu, said the country was following events in the UK “very closely.”

She told a news briefing on Romania’s six-month tenure that it was best to take current Brexit developments on a “step-by-step” basis, but added, “In the case of a no deal, I am confident that all necessary contingency measures will be in place.”

Odobescu told reporters that the European Commission will, on Wednesday, publish its latest plans in the event of a No Deal and that the Romanian presidency is “preparing ourselves for a no-deal scenario."


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Her comments come a day after UK Prime Minister Theresa May confirmed the date for the Commons vote on the Brexit deal she agreed with the EU.

May said the UK Government intends to “return to the meaningful vote debate in the week commencing January 7 and hold the vote the following week.”

May also told the Commons, “I know there are a range of very strongly-held personal views on this issue across the House and I respect all of them. But expressing our personal views is not what we are here to do.”

“I know this is not everyone’s perfect deal. It is a compromise. But if we let the perfect be the enemy of the good, we risk leaving the EU with no deal,” May added.

“In the case of a no-deal [Brexit], I am confident that all necessary contingency measures will be in place” Luminiţa Odobescu

The UK Cabinet has also agreed to implement no deal Brexit plans in full.

Jenny Chapman, Labour’s Shadow Brexit Minister, said in this regard, “It is testament to the Prime Minister’s failure in these negotiations that the Government is now spending billions of pounds of taxpayers’ money to prepare for a no-deal Brexit that is rejected by Parliament and many of those sat around the Cabinet table.”

“A no-deal Brexit would be a disaster for jobs, the economy and the border in Northern Ireland. It is simply not a viable option. Labour will work across Parliament to prevent ‘no deal’ and ensure the public don’t pay the price for this Government’s failure.”

Odobescu, Romania’s most senior diplomat in Brussels, said that whatever the outcome of the current discussions in London, she was confident the EU will “act accordingly.”

CHALLENGING TIMES

Romania takes over the rotating presidency at arguably one of the most testing periods in the history of the EU.

Brexit, along with the rise of populist parties, migration and the European elections in May, all pose a serious challenge for the EU.

Arguably the most challenging is the planned EU exit of the UK at the end of March 2019.

The current impasse in the UK over the Brexit deal intensified on Monday when UK Labour party leader Jeremy Corbyn tabled a motion of no confidence in the Prime Minister, saying, “It is bad, unacceptable, that we should be waiting almost a month before we have a meaningful vote on the crucial issue facing the future of this country,” and demanded  that the Government allocates time to debate the motion.

He stopped short, however, of bringing a motion of no confidence in the Government under the Fixed-term Parliaments Act (FTPA), which would require obligatory time for parliamentary debate.

A Downing Street source was later quoted saying, “We won’t allow time for what is a stunt. The FTPA applies if Labour wants to put down a motion under the terms of that.”

Elsewhere, May said that there were “no plans” to allow MPs to have a series of indicative votes on alternative scenarios in the event that the Prime Minister’s Brexit deal does not pass in Parliament.

This comes after Business Secretary Greg Clark said, “If the vote on the Brexit deal were not to be successful we do need to have an agreement, we can’t just have ongoing uncertainty, and I think Parliament should be invited to say what it would agree with.”

Separately, a Downing Street spokesperson said that talks “at all levels” between the UK and the EU were continuing in order to further secure assurances over the Irish backstop in the Withdrawal Agreement.

However, a European Commission spokesman said, “The deal that is on the table is the best and the only deal possible. We will not reopen it, it will not be renegotiated. As President Donald Tusk said, the European Council has given the clarifications that were possible at this stage so no further meetings with the United Kingdom are foreseen.”

About the author

Martin Banks is a senior reporter at The Parliament Magazine

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