European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker has said the bloc is prepared but experts have cast doubt on the eurocrat’s claims. Pieter Cleppe, of the Open Europe think tank, has warned the countries with the closest ties to Britain will be worst hit. Ireland, the Netherlands, France, Germany and Belgium have most at stake on the Continent and have attempt to protect themselves from the cliff edge if there is a hard Brexit on April 12.
Mr Cleppe said: “The UK’s neighbouring countries haven’t hired the sufficient number of customs staff or veterinary inspectors needed in case of a no deal.
“Measures have been decided to mitigate the worst of the damage but these measures are all temporary and unilateral, whereas actual agreements with the UK are needed, for example to prevent disruption in aviation or to protect supply chains of big manufacturers. Also the EU budget will feel the strain in case the UK leaves without a deal, which will also affect national budgets of member states that are net beneficiaries of EU funds.”
Dutch trade unions have warned that the army, police and customs officials are not ready for a no-deal Brexit.
They suggest there could be serious consequences for security because of an instant loss of information sharing with Britain.
German business has warned about the impact to manufacturing supply chains, crucial to the country’s motor vehicle industry.
So much so, economy minister Peter Altmaier said the best Brexit option for Germany would see Britain remain in the customs union.
The Belgian government has been hiring extra customs staff, but leading customs official have warned that no deal preparations have still been insufficient.
Companies have been warned to minimise imports and exports to the UK as a temporary measure in the build up to Brexit day.
The country’s largest port, Zeebrugge, is expecting huge queues because 10 percent of of lorries carry the the correct paperwork.
Paris has made a genuine effort to prepare for a hard Brexit, hiring 740 extra customs and veterinary inspectors and spending millions to improve airport and port security measures.
But Medef, France’s largest employment federation, has claimed there I’ll be “absolute chaos in Calais and other ports which export goods to the UK”.
Dublin has the most at stake, of the remaining EU27, in the Brexit process.
Ireland could lose as much as 4 percent of its GDP if Britain leaves the bloc without a deal.
There are also significant risks of violence returning to the border region as a peace agreement breaks down with a hard border.