Rome: Italy's populist government has set up a task-force as part of its preparations for the UK's possible exit from the European Union on March 29 without a deal, Foreign Minister Enzo Moaovero Milanesi said on Thursday.
"The task-force's role is to coordinate all ministries concerning relations with the EU, he told lawmakers from the lower house of parliament's foreign and European affairs committees.
In the event of a no-deal Brexit, citizens' rights and financial and trade issues with be priority areas for member states, Moavero said.
The EU is preparing norms "which will be immediately and directly applicable" if Britain leaves the EU without a deal, and these will not need ratification by national parliaments, he added.
Britain's parliament on Wednesday rejected the prospect of withdrawing from the EU without a deal. Although the motion carries considerable political force, it may not prevent a no-deal Brexit as March 29 remains the day enshrined in law that Britain will leave the EU.
Ahead of another vote in the British parliament Thursday on seeking a delay to the UK's scheduled withdrawal from the European Union, Moavero said he did not oppose an extension of Brexit.
"The decision on whether to grant the UK an extension of Article 50 needs to be discussed at government level but my view is that we should agree to this," he told MPs.
All 27 EU members would have to agree to an extension of Article 50, the section of the bloc's Lisbon Treaty that sets out what happens when a country decides that it wants to leave, Moavero pointed out.
"This would need to have a purpose, however," he said.
A second referendum on Brexit and fresh elections are also possibilities that "cannot be ruled out," Moavero said.
If British lawmakers vote on Thursday to extend Brexit, a formal request for could be made and approved at an EU leaders' summit scheduled for March 21-22.