Neither the EU or the UK is currently expressing confidence that a trade agreement will be reached by the end of the transition period. On that basis the EU is taking steps to implement some limited continuity of key matters in the event of no further agreement.
The European Commission has proposed four new EU regulations to take effect by 31 December 2020 governing:
- two regulations on aviation - covering basic connectivity and safety, to allow flights to continue (for six months) provided the UK agrees to equivalent arrangements;
- a regulation on basic connectivity for road traffic (freight and passenger transport) for 6 months; and
- a regulation on fisheries which allows reciprocal access for up to a year while a fisheries agreement is agreed. To the degree this preserves the status quo which the UK is not in favour of, there may be some contention in this approach.
These are continuity arrangements and are only on the very basic matters needed to keep certain activities going and are time limited. They do not amount to anything like an ongoing transition period or a future agreement.. Nonetheless, they recognise some EU focus shifting away from planning for implementation of a trade agreement towards mitigation of not having one. Whether this is tactical or simply pragmatic is hard to know.
Commission proposes targeted contingency measures to prepare for possible “no-deal” scenario