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The EU Commission has begun formal preparations for a “no deal” Brexit scenario, with the launch of its Contingency Action Plan. The document provides detail on the measures the Commission considers necessary in the event of a “no deal” Brexit to guard against the most severe consequences.

Following on from the Commission’s initial guidance published in November 2018, the Contingency Action Plan sets out 14 core legislative measures that the Commission deems necessary should the UK fail to ratify a withdrawal agreement or postpone its exit from the EU before 29 March 2019. The plan contains a blend of temporary and permanent legislative provisions to minimise the impact of a “no deal” and focuses on eight key areas such as transport, customs, data protection and financial services.

Although the plan is comprehensive, the Commission warned in its press release that the “…measures will not - and cannot - mitigate the overall impact of a 'no-deal' scenario". The pessimistic mood was mirrored by the news conference comments of Commission Vice-President Valdis Dombrovskis, who stated that any plan would amount to “an exercise in damage limitation”.

Commenting on the publication of the Commission’s plan, Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney said that the document “is a sobering read and shows why the current withdrawal agreement needs to be accepted”.

As a companion to the Commission’s launch, the Irish Government also published a general scheme of national measures required should a “no deal” scenario occur. The draft omnibus bill seeks to protect Irish interests and the Government called on the Oireachtas to assist with ensuring that any necessary “no deal” legislation will be in place before the 29 March 2019.

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