EU chief proposes five billion euro Brexit emergency fund

Brussels (AFP) – EU Council president Charles Michel on Friday proposed setting up a five billion euro reserve fund for any unforeseen consequences of Brexit on bloc member states.

“Brexit is challenging for all of us and that is why we propose a Brexit reserve of five billion euros ($5.7 billion),” said Michel as he unveiled his latest proposal for a long-term EU budget that will be debated by bloc leaders next week.

Brexit with or without a agreement on future ties “will have consequences in Europe for the member states and that’s why I think it’s… necessary to ask the commission to prepare for a needs assessment by November 2021,” he said.

The EU and Britain are currently in negotiations to agree on a basis of trade relations after a post-Brexit transition phase ends on December 31.

“We all know that the ongoing negotiations are not easy,” said Michel, who chairs EU leaders summit meetings.

“And we know that probably by the end of the summer or in September, October, we will have a clearer vision about where we are in these negotiations process.”

Ireland is expected to be the most affected by the end of Britain’s membership of the EU, with Belgium and northern France also seen as vulnerable to potential economic shocks.

The EU said on Thursday said it is planning emergency measures across dozens of sectors after the Brexit transition period and warned of “inevitable disruptions” even if a deal is agreed with London.

“There will be far-reaching and automatic changes and consequences for citizens, consumers, businesses, public administrations, investors, students and researchers,” the commission warned, urging EU governments to prepare.