UKTiE Brexit or 360° members can ask for more information if you wish to explore behind the headlines or require some bespoke analysis. Please contact us if you would like to join.

Mark’s Brexit Week for Transport
Even now, with the power to trigger Article 50, the government is still coming to terms with the enormity of leaving the EU, finding a transitional agreement and then negotiating a new trade agreement with the EU. What does this mean in practical terms for transport? – The government needs your help. The Committees of the Commons and Lords are doing their best to collect evidence and good advice, but it is still not enough. It was painful watching David Davis squirming under Hillary Benn’s cross-examination, it doesn’t help him get a good deal for transport. We are seeing some industries floating new ideas for how they want to work and  maybe they will get them. Meanwhile, others need to work harder to explain what they want in practical terms from Brexit, as the government, it seems, can’t be relied upon to do all the homework. The same is true here in Brussels.  UKTiE plans to be first out of the starting blocks once the Article 50 starting pistol is fired, with a series of meetings with the key Brexit decision-makers. Join us.

1. UK Transport to meet Verhofstadt’s Brexit transport team
As part of an ongoing engagement programme we have organised a meeting with Guy Verhofstadt MEP’s team on the 12th of April. In the meeting, UKTiE and its members will discuss with Mr Verhofstadt’s team how it would like to see the future relationship between the UK and the EU in terms of transport. UKTiE is the only organisation representing UK transport as a whole in the EU, and is open to any transport organisation with a stake in UK transport, UK based or otherwise. If you would like more information on how to join UKTiE and attend this and other meetings, including with Michel Barnier’s team, then you can email me here or see our brochure here.

2. Lords Report on Trade in Goods urges Government for transitional deal to help customs procedures
report by the House of Lords has urged the Government to establish at the outset of negotiations a clear strategy for a future transitional agreement, with specific proposals to what form it should take. With chapters on imports, exports, tariffs and non-tariff barriers, costs, trade agreements, it is a detailed look at what the status is now and how it will change. A number of experts gave evidence about the effects of added customs procedures to their industry, ranging from Simon Whalley of Royal Aeronautical Society who said that membership of EASA was “our number one ask of the UK Government”, to Steve Elliott, CEO of Chemical Industries Association, who said that leaving the customs union would mean the UK having to “rewrite … the customs code, and recruit and retrain customs officers”. We are preparing a submission on the new UK-EU customs agreement and would welcome submissions.

3. David Davis grilled in front of select committee on aviation and customs
Secretary of State for Exiting the EU David Davis appeared before the House of Commons Exiting the EU Select Committee to discuss the UK’s negotiating objectives for its withdrawal from the EU. During a particular period of heavy grilling, Davis confirmed that the EU-US open skies agreement will cease to apply once the UK leaves the EU. According to Davis, there is no mention of a successor for the agreement at present. When questioned about the Open Skies agreement, David said ‘we think we are in a good position’ and ‘it is in other people’s interests to keep this not just us’.  Another issue touched upon during the debate was the future border between Ireland and Northern Ireland – the aim of avoiding a hard border was re-emphasised, but without concrete details on how this would be achieved. Contact us if you want a full transcript of the hearing.

4. French fear UK ‘free ports.’
This week, French publication Contrepoints has urged French industry to keep an eye on British ports, and to consider how the competitive market for shipping could change post Brexit. Back in November 2016, Rishi Sunak, Conservative MP published a report called The Free Ports Opportunity, calling on Theresa May to create free-trade zones in the UK after Brexit. This was discussed by the British Cabinet in January. The article warns that the British could take advantage of a ‘free port’ system to attract goods from the Commonwealth, “transform” them locally, give them a made in Britain label and then flood the Single Market, and fears that ‘free ports’ could set EU ports at a disadvantage.  The ‘free ports’ concept is being promoted by senior Conservatives, and has already gathered support from some leading industrial figures and some key think tanks. It is clearly making some on the continent nervous. A think-tank event on ‘free ports’ is planned for May. Please contact us for more information.

5. Minister confirms no research carried out on impact of Brexit on airlines.
When pressed, Transport minister John Hayes confirmed that there has been no research carried out on the impact of Brexit on airlines. This is a report from The Sun, who seem to be joining a number of confirmed ‘outers’, including Christopher Booker, who, while they still support Brexit, are nervous about the direction of travel and lack of preparation.

6. Heathrow looks to the future and Khan sees Open Skies as a way forward
As Brexit discussions continue, Heathrow airport appears to be taking every opportunity to promote the new runway as a means for Britain to develop into the world’s best-connected country in the post-Brexit era. Meanwhile, Attar Husain Khan joins the group of aviation actors that perceive the potential consequences of the upcoming Brexit negotiations for his industry, and draws attention to a possible approachfor the new aviation deal. In a recent blog post, Khan sees the EU-US open skies agreement as a viable approach to negotiations. Although by no means ideal this approach is seen as a good alternative to the EEA, ECAA and to the revision to ICAO or WTO conventions as currently foreseen.

  1. Minister keeps freight industry guessing

During last week’s ‘Keep Britain Trading’ conference organised by the Freight Transport Association, David Jones – the Minister for Exiting the EU – addressed several key issues for the sector in light of the imminent triggering of Article 50: future of customs and tariff agreements, access to EU transport markets and helping businesses in continuing to attract skilled labour. Jones’ intervention seemed to follow the well known pattern of Brexit rhetoric coming from the UK officials – highlighting the importance of the sector in negotiations, the desire to avoid a cliff edge, and the promise that the UK government will secure a deal that works.  When prompted about details regarding the customs arrangements, Jones stressed it was vital not to reveal the negotiating hand too soon, but that Prime Minister May will seek the greatest possible access to the European Union and TO maintain the vital links the UK has with Ireland.

  1. 8UKTiE have also put together the latest timetable for Brexit. We will keep this up to date as the process develops:  
  • End of March 2017 – After Article 50 is triggered the European Council would decide on the guidelines on 6 April or 26 April. The European Parliament will adopt their resolution at the April plenary session in Strasbourg (2-6 April).
  • 23 April & 7 May 2017 – French Presidential elections
  • May/June 2017 – Negotiations formally begin
  • 24 September 2017 – German Federal elections
  • 30 September 2018 – Date by which EU’s chief Brexit negotiator, Michel Barnier, wants to conclude the terms of Britain’s exit from the Union
  • 31 March 2019 –  Date by which Theresa May wants to conclude the negotiations over Brexit
  • May 2019 – Britain formally exits the EU, following ratification of Brexit by all other member states and the European Parliament.
  • June 2019 – European Parliament elections

Mark Watts
UK transport in Europe (UKTiE)


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