Margrethe Vestager claimed the crumbling Brussels bloc is also reportedly gearing up for the possibility that Britain may rip itself from the bloc without a deal following the two-year negotiation period from when Article 50 is triggered.
In a thinly-veiled warning to the British Government, EU competition commissioner Vestager said in an interview that she was prepared to protect the “jewel” of the single market against rivalry from the UK.
She said: “We are prepared for a conflictual situation. It will not be easy.”
Vestager told the Times that the European Commission has devised “very thorough” contingency plans if negotiations turn sour after Theresa May triggers Article 50 next week.
The commissioner also suggested that Brexit negotiations could become akin to “people divorcing”, with conflicts arising over minor issues.
Vestager said the EU is preparing for
She said: “I am not divorced but I have seen people divorcing.
“They find something they were given at the wedding 30 years ago. They never displayed it. Then all of a sudden it is the main centre of conflict.”
Vestager added: “They would rather crash it than let the other one have it.”
Theresa May has confirmed she will trigger Article 50 on 29 March
Brussels sparked fury among Whitehall officials recently after it suggested Britain would have to pay up to £60billion Brexit deal when leaving the bloc.
Negotiations about fees owed, including pensions paid to retired European officials, are expected to be particularly contentious.
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But Vestager insisted the EU wants an “orderly ending” to Britain’s membership of the sprawling superstate and a “future relationship beneficial to both”.
Vestager said she does not believe Britain will adopt protectionism after Brexit
She added: “It is very important to have an open mind and say there will be conflicts.
“What we have learned is to be prepared for difficult outcomes – in general to prepare well.”
Vestager’s role is to enforce EU state aid rules, and ensure no company or country gets an unfair advantage in the single market.
Brexit: Results of how the UK voted Mon, March 20, 2017
Much of the North East of the United Kingdom voted to leave the European Union including Sunderland, Gateshead, Darlington, Durham, Hartlepool, Middlesbrough, Stockton, Redcar and Cleveland, North Tyneside and South Tyneside, and Northumberland
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GREAT YARMOUTH: The town of Great Yarmouth on the East Coast of England voted by 72% to leave the European Union.
She also told the Times that she is confident Britain will not adopt protectionist economic policy after Brexit.
The commissioner added: “It is part and parcel of how we see fair trade practices. It is obviously part of how we discuss our future relationship.
“What it will be like when you have a huge economy like Britain next to the single market remains to be seen.”