Professor Steve Peers summing up the European Union’s no deal contingency plans published on Thursday morning.


First published in December 2020.


The European Union (EU) has published on Thursday morning its ‘no deal’ unilateral contingency measures to deal with aviation, air safety, road haulage, and fisheries.

Press release:

Press corner
Highlights, press releases and speeches

Legal texts:

Communication and legislative proposals from the Commission on limited contingency measures in the absence of an agreement on a future partnership with the United Kingdom
Communication and legislative proposals on limited contingency measures in the absence of an agreement on a future partnership with the United Kingdom

Except for regulations on aviation safety, the proposed laws “will automatically stop when an agreement enters into force or stop after a fixed period if no agreement enters into force (six months for the air services and road related measures and one year for the fisheries related measures).”

The European Commission points out that visa waiver for short-term visits of UK citizens is already legislated for. (Discussed back in April 2019)

European Commission

Basic principles: These no deal contingency measures are temporary, unilateral (though some depend on reciprocity) and fall short of membership, or Free Trade Agreement.

They are also not applicable to Gibraltar.

European Commission

Aviation: Proposals on flights (for six months) and aviation safety.

No proposal this time on ownership and control of air carriers.

European Commission

Road transport: Law applicable for six months regarding road haulage and buses.

The bus proposal includes a derogation for Ireland.

European Commission

Rail transport: A summary of the proposal from two weeks ago to apply Channel Tunnel authorisations for a limited period.

It applies while France and the UK negotiate an amendment to the Channel Tunnel Treaty (on the basis of the EU law already in force).

European Commission

Fisheries: The proposal is probably some fanfic on the EU side. Add it to the piles of Brexity and Remainer fanfic in the UK.

European Commission

Budget issues related to no deal.

Note that the European Commission says also that UK participation in the Northern Ireland peace funding programme can continue.

European Commission

National contingency measures: The Commission wags its fingers at the Member States.

Nb. Not every issue is within EU exclusive competence.

European Commission

Note that the legislation proposed today would have to be agreed by the EU Council and the European Parliament to become law. But similar proposals were adopted quickly regarding the prospect of no Withdrawal Agreement in spring 2019.

The Commission points out that the post-transition parts of the Withdrawal Agreement apply even if there is no trade deal – including the citizens’ rights part and the Northern Ireland protocol.

European Commission

The proposal on aviation would prohibit Member States from bilateral negotiations. But it also provides for a possible separate EU/UK agreement on aviation, which might be applied provisionally (i.e. pending formal ratification).

Same thing for the road transport proposal.

European Commission
European Commission
European Commission
European Commission


Professor Steve Peers, Professor of EU, Human Rights & World Trade Law, University of Essex.

  • Professor Peers is the author of various books on the subject of EU Law.





[This piece was first published as a Twitter thread and turned into the above article on 10 December 2020 with the purpose of reaching a larger audience. It has been minorly edited and corrected, and published with the author’s consent. | The author of the tweets writes in a personal capacity.]

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