Download publication

Policy Contribution

The implications of no-deal Brexit: is the European Union prepared?

The author, based on a note written for the Bundestag EU Committee, is exploring the possible consequences of a no-deal Brexit for the EU, assessing preparations on the EU side and providing guidance on the optimal strategy for the EU, depending on the choices made by the United Kingdom.

By: Date: January 14, 2019 Topic: European Macroeconomics & Governance

This Policy Contribution, based on a note written for the Bundestag EU Committee, explores the possible consequences of a no-deal Brexit for the European Union and assesses preparations on the EU side. It also provides guidance on the optimal strategy for the EU, depending on the choices made by the United Kingdom.

Overall, a no-deal Brexit would be disruptive in the short-term:

  • There would be immediate very significant administrative and logistical challenges in trade. Preparations to reduce those disruptions are underway but are unlikely to be sufficient. But while Most-Favoured Nation tariffs will affect some sectors significantly, the macroeconomic effect on the German economy might not be huge.
  • If the UK fails to honour its financial commitments to the EU, about €16.5 billion would be missing for the remainder of the current EU budgetary period. The gap could be filled thanks to the existing ‘own resources’ ceiling. The overall missing ‘Brexit bill’ would amount to about €45-50 billion.
  • Not honouring financial commitments would be considered by the EU as akin to default and would likely lead to an uncooperative no-deal Brexit. It would be more disruptive than a cooperative no-deal Brexit, in which the EU and the UK cooperate on a number of pressing emergency files.
  • The European Commission has issued a number of draft regulations to mitigate the effects of a no-deal Brexit, including on issues such as aviation and visas. These are comprehensive but would not offset the effects of a no-deal Brexit, which would be highly disruptive in some sectors.

The effects of a no-deal Brexit in the medium to long term are difficult to assess. A no-deal Brexit would lead to deterioration in long-term political relationships, which would make a new trade arrangement and other cooperation in the future less likely.

A specific concern is the situation in Ireland, which is also the most contentious part of the Brexit negotiation. If the EU wants to protect the integrity of its single market, a no-deal Brexit will mean the imposition of customs controls on the Irish border. The European Commission’s draft legislation aims to preserve the peace process, but a hard border could provoke renewed violence.

The overall strategic direction the EU should take would be to increase the cost to the UK of a no-deal Brexit as much as possible (respecting ethical limits), while showing more flexibility over the political declaration and possibly the withdrawal deal itself.

View comments
Read article More on this topic More by this author

Podcast

Podcast

Director's Cut: The economics of no-deal Brexit

Bruegel director Guntram Wolff is joined by senior fellow Zsolt Darvas to rake through the possibilities and probabilities inherent in a no-deal Brexit scenario, covering trade, the Irish border, citizens' rights and the EU budget.

By: The Sound of Economics Topic: European Macroeconomics & Governance Date: January 16, 2019
Read article More by this author

Blog Post

What 2019 could bring: A look inside the crystal ball

Economic performance prospects in Europe, the US and Asia in 2019. We start off by reviewing commentaries and predictions about the euro zone, which many commentators expect to perform below potential as uncertainties continue to dampen a still robust recovery.

By: Michael Baltensperger Topic: European Macroeconomics & Governance, Global Economics & Governance Date: January 14, 2019
Read article More on this topic More by this author

Blog Post

EU budget implications of a no-deal Brexit

A no-deal Brexit would mean the UK’s contributions to the EU budget fall to zero as of March 30th 2019. The author here calculates an estimate of the budget shortfall that would have to be covered in this case, and how the burden would fall across different member states.

By: Zsolt Darvas Topic: European Macroeconomics & Governance Date: January 14, 2019
Read article Download PDF More by this author

Parliamentary Testimony

German Bundestag

The implications of no-deal Brexit: is the EU prepared?

Hearing on Brexit in the EU Committee of Bundestag on 14 January 2019, exploring the possible consequences of a no-deal Brexit for the EU and assessing preparations on the EU side.

By: Guntram B. Wolff Topic: European Macroeconomics & Governance, German Bundestag, Testimonies Date: January 14, 2019
Read article More on this topic More by this author

Blog Post

Brexit: Now for something completely different?

The life of Brexit. After a week of ECJ rulings, delayed votes, Theresa May’s errands across Europe and the vote of no confidence, we review the latest economists’ opinions to try to make sense of what has changed and what hasn’t.

By: Inês Goncalves Raposo Topic: European Macroeconomics & Governance Date: December 17, 2018
Read article More on this topic

Opinion

How a second referendum could be the best way to overcome Brexit impasse

A new vote based on the revocation (or not) of Article 50 would give the UK government a clear signal to proceed in one direction or another, and thus trim down the number of options being touted – most of which are unworkable as things stand.

By: Maria Demertzis and Nicola Viegi Topic: European Macroeconomics & Governance Date: December 14, 2018
Read article More on this topic More by this author

Blog Post

The Brexit withdrawal agreement

On November 14th the UK government cabinet approved the draft text of the withdrawal agreement, the deal reached between EU and UK negotiators. The decision was followed the next day by the resignations of several members of Parliament. We review the first reactions in the blogosphere.

By: Silvia Merler Topic: European Macroeconomics & Governance Date: November 19, 2018
Read article More on this topic More by this author

Podcast

Podcast

Director’s Cut: Options yet open for a Brexit deal

Robin Niblett, director of Chatham House institute, joins Bruegel deputy director Maria Demertzis for an assessment of what progress can be reasonably expected from the final months of the Brexit negotiations.

By: The Sound of Economics Topic: European Macroeconomics & Governance Date: November 7, 2018
Read article More on this topic More by this author

Blog Post

Post-Brexit transfers of personal data: The clock is ticking

The UK government would like to keep EU-UK data transfers largely the same following the country's separation from the EU. But talks have yet to even commence on a future data-sharing relationship, and a landmark European Court of Human Rights ruling in September bodes poorly for the UK's future status under the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation.

By: J. Scott Marcus Topic: European Macroeconomics & Governance Date: November 7, 2018
Read article More on this topic More by this author

Blog Post

Digesting the Salzburg Summit

As the moment of truth for Brexit negotiations is approaching, with the October European Council around the corner, we review opinions on the outcome and meaning of the Salzburg summit.

By: Silvia Merler Topic: European Macroeconomics & Governance Date: October 1, 2018
Read article More on this topic More by this author

Podcast

Podcast

Backstage: Brexit consequences for EU’s ICT policy

Bruegel senior fellow Scott Marcus welcomes former European Regulators Group chairman Kip Meek to explore the consequences of Brexit for ICT policy-making in Europe.

By: The Sound of Economics Topic: European Macroeconomics & Governance Date: September 25, 2018
Read article More by this author

Parliamentary Testimony

European Parliament

Brexit and industry & space policy

Testimony before the European Parliament's Committee on Industry, Research and Energy (ITRE).

By: Reinhilde Veugelers Topic: European Parliament, Innovation & Competition Policy, Testimonies Date: September 25, 2018
Load more posts