Editorial | Brexit: Between common sense and preparedness

Time is on nobody’s side, which is why the Maltese government’s decision to be fully prepared for a no-deal scenario makes absolute sense


Brexit is, for the time being, slated for 31 October irrespective of whether the UK and the EU agree on a withdrawal deal.

Both sides are now engaged in a flurry of diplomacy to try and agree an orderly way forward.

Hope appears to be fading after the phone call British Prime Minister Boris Johnson had with German Chancellor Angela Merkel this week.

But for EU observers, such last-minute wrangling is nothing extraordinary because the EU has a knack of finalising important agreements at the final hour.

We have all been in this position on two other occasions this year as Brexit kept being delayed.

The situation is slightly different now, given Johnson’s resolve to leave the EU even without a deal.

Whether an agreement will be reached still has to be seen but it is important for both sides to sit down and try and hammer out a compromise that is least harmful to the UK and the EU.

There appears to be a growing sense of concern within the EU that a no-deal scenario could result in market mayhem for European companies and citizens, apart from the fact that it will lead to the erection of a border in Northern Ireland.

As things stand, what the EU wants to avoid – a hard border on the island of Ireland – will pretty much become a reality without an agreement.

This is why the EU has to end its rigid stand and attempt a serious negotiation on the British proposals put forward by Johnson.

At the same time, the British government has to realise that it can no longer project its internal political troubles onto Brussels. Engaging in a blame game at this stage is infantile and useless.

Talks must be done in good faith and common sense should prevail.

Time is on nobody’s side, which is why the Maltese government’s decision to be fully prepared for a no-deal scenario makes absolute sense.

From a trade perspective, in a no-deal scenario, the UK will become a third country, which makes transactions more cumbersome.

Maltese companies with no experience in dealing with counterparts outside the EU, will have to learn the ropes if they trade with the UK.

The Maltese government’s decision to make life for British nationals living in Malta as easy as possible is also welcome news for the individuals themselves and also for the companies that employ them.

Although decision makers believe the immediate impact of a no-deal Brexit on Malta will not be significant, it helps to have contingency plans at hand.

Life will continue after Brexit and Malta has to be well-placed to capture the opportunities that will arise from this challenge.

Attracting the British companies that will seek to co-locate to an EU member state could provide a raft of new investment opportunities that Malta must try and tap.

The island’s attractiveness to British companies is self-evident: English is widely spoken, our laws are very similar to the UK, public health services and educational instruction are very good, and the country’s tax system offers significant advantages.

Malta Enterprise has been working in this regard to entice such companies but with Brexit just around the corner, those efforts have to intensify further.

Preparedness is always a welcome attribute at a time of uncertainty.

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