No-deal Brexit would cause major disruption, EU commissioner warns
Pierre Moscovici said there would be tailbacks at Channel crossings, while checks at the Irish border would be necessary.
The risk of a no-deal Brexit and major disruption is increasing, according to an EU commissioner.
With 11,000 vehicles making the Dover to Calais crossing every day, Customs Commissioner Pierre Moscovici warned of tailbacks if there is an abrupt exit.
Mr Moscovici also said he is working to minimise disruption at the Irish border, but he insisted checks would still be needed.
In a Brexit briefing on customs, he said: “We’re now faced with an increasing risk of a no-deal Brexit on April 12…
I would prefer rigorous checks and a few tailbacks of lorries rather than a health crisis or illegal trafficking. Pierre Moscovici
“This will be an immediate legal change, a radical one, and obviously a very substantial one for the UK, our member states and our businesses.
“A cliff-edge scenario… would create major disruption and we must expect there would be queues at the Eurotunnel exit and at the ports.”
He said checks would take place away from the Irish border as much as possible, but “we have to ensure full application of the customs code as soon as the UK leaves”.
He said: “They would need to protect their respective markets – public health, consumer safety, legitimate businesses – and carry out the necessary checks in the least disruptive manner and as much as possible away from the border, I insist on that.
“What matters is how these checks take place… We are working closely and intensively with the Irish Taoiseach in order to organise these checks in a least disruptive a manner as possible.”
When asked whether a hard border would be needed, Mr Moscovici said “peace there is absolutely key”, but: “There will be checks, let’s not be mistaken about that.
“We would expect the UK to live up to its commitment to avoiding a hard border while protecting Ireland’s place in the general market.”
Asked about the need for full checks in every case, Mr Moscovici said they are important to make sure there is not a health crisis or trafficking.
He added: “Let’s be clear, without an agreement, the activities of thousands of European businesses, and to a certain extent travellers, will be disturbed by the reintroduction of customs checks.
“I would prefer rigorous checks and a few tailbacks of lorries rather than a health crisis or illegal trafficking.
“The safety of Europeans will be our absolute priority.”