Teresa May travels to Brussels on Thursday to warn the European Union to accept legally binding changes to the Irish Brexit border agreements; or if not, face the possibility of a British exit from the European Union without any agreement in place. Meanwhile, the British government has held secret talks about a plan for a delay of departure for up to eight more weeks. Ministers expect the European Union to accept an “additional period” of 90 days after the date set in the event of an agreement being reached and approved by Parliament to provide additional time for the necessary legislation.
Meanwhile, the tourism of our islands is waiting uncertainly on the outcome of these talks while other destinations are rubbing their hands and preparing the beds. Destinations such as Turkey, Tunisia, and Egypt foresee a record level of arrivals for the summer of 2019. Other destinations such as Jordan and the United Arab Emirates hope to ring the bell this season as they place their bets on high-end tourism.
British withdrawal from the EU in March or May would mean immediate departure of the UK from the European Aviation Association, therefore airlines linking England to the Balearic Islands will lose that operating license “if there is no specific agreement for air operations within the Brexit agreement”. What’s more, English tour operators are very active in the Balearic Islands, where they maintain a significant workforce that operates under the umbrella of the “Tour Operator Margin Scheme” (TOMS), a mechanism that allows EU citizens to work in a country other than that of their residence. This privilege will also end, forcing the tour operators to look for workers at the destination and hire them with the conditions of each country.
Finally, another risk to the British economy that would directly affect the Balearic Islands is the devaluation of sterling, leaving the British economy at the mercy of market leniency and making it more challenging to export goods from the Balearic Islands to the UK.
There is little hope of indications about the future of Brexit from Theresa May’s trip to Brussels today, nor is a short-term European Union contingency plan expected in the event of a sharp exit from the United Kingdom. As far as our community is concerned, the tourist season is just around the corner, and with Brexit off or on, you have to have an emergency plan prepared for the worst-case scenario to avoid a severe impact on our economy.