European Commission economists have been banned from researching the impact of Britain leaving the 28-nation bloc, or even talking about it, for fear of getting embroiled in the heated British debate ahead of a referendum, officials said.
"There is an internal order not to discuss or study the impact of Brexit," a senior Commission official told Reuters, adding that the instruction had come from the office of European Union chief executive Jean-Claude Juncker.
As a result, the Commission's economic forecasts for the euro zone and the wider EU will take account of political and financial risks in China, the Middle East and the United States but not the glaringly obvious risk that Britain, the EU's second biggest economy, may vote to leave.
Another senior EU official said the Commission had learned to its cost the consequences of such contingency planning last year. It insisted it had no "Plan B" to manage a possible Grexit - the risk of Greece leaving the euro zone.
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