EU leaders and member states are losing patience with the UK and doubt is prevalent across the EU that a deal will be struck in time before October 31st 2019. The Dutch minister for trade, Sigrid Kaag, recently commented in September that the scenes being played out in London were “unbelievable” and warned of the EU’s waning patience given the impact on European businesses of the continued uncertainty.
As the Bloc as a whole steps up preparations to mitigate the impacts of No-Deal, individual member states are also taking steps to deal with the possible fall out. Those member states with significant UK-facing ports have already begun contingency planning for no deal. The UK is a significant trading partner for these countries such as The Netherlands, Germany and France, but ports in these countries such as Rotterdam, Antwerp and Hamburg are also a transit point for trade between the UK and more distant EU member states. With Boris Johnson’s premiership and the increasing probability of a UK crash out, these ports have ramped up investment in additional capacity at their borders. There has been increased investment in staff such as customs officials and vets to do animal health checks along with infrastructure.
On the political front, increasing EU impatience with the UK could have an impact on the granting of an extension to Brexit beyond the 31st October deadline. The Prime Minister himself recently commented that his discussions with EU leaders led him to believe that they did not want Brexit to keep “dragging on”. President Macron of France is believed to have set an end of September 2019 deadline for the UK to present a concrete proposal to avoid a No-Deal Brexit. Any extension would have to be ratified by unanimous agreement of the European Council under the terms of Article 50 of the Treaty on European Union (TEU). The next European Council meeting is scheduled for October 17th-18th 2019.