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Three EU countries call on Commission to step up no-deal Brexit preparations

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Belgium, France and the Netherlands have asked the European Commission to step up its contingency planning for a no-deal Brexit, Belgian Prime Minister Alexander De Croo told reporters.

According to De Croo, EU leaders were given a brief state of play of the Brexit negotiations during their video summit on Thursday. The Brexit talks were suspended at the chief negotiator level earlier in the day after an EU negotiator tested positive for coronavirus.

“We can’t keep hoping for a good outcome,” De Croo told reporters. “There might be one, but hoping alone is not enough. We have to start our contingency planning. [French President Emmanuel] Macron and [Dutch PM Mark] Rutte have made similar statements.”

De Croo stressed that Belgium, France and the Netherlands are among the countries most impacted by Brexit.

“Together with a few other countries I now insisted, in parallel with the negotiations, on more clarity from the Commission about their proposal about European contingency measures,” Rutte told reporters in a press conference.

An Elysée official said Macron “talked about [Brexit contingency planning] in his introduction then moved on to COVID. He mentions it regularly.” Another EU official confirmed that Macron had also asked for the stepping up of no-deal preparations.

The European Commission has waited to launch its contingency measures, as they could be seen as a political sign to London that Brussels has lost faith in the negotiations.

Rym Montaz contributed reporting.

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