UK TRANSPORT AND BREXIT NEWS & VIEWS NO. 140

Mark’s EU Week for Transport 
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Hello from Brussels!

It’s been a dramatic few days in Europe, the US and the world, even for this year! Brussels, like much of Europe, is back in lockdown The US elections of course, with the election of the 46th President of the USA, Joe Biden, and the election of Vice-President Elect, Kamala Harris. Meanwhile EU plans for reform in the fields of energy, transport and the environment policy and law  DELETE markets DELETE are becoming more ambitious than ever, despite, or maybe even because of, the pandemic And don’t forget Brexit. Another crunch week!

This week we’ll analyse all this and more. Welcome to WattsUp!

First, those US elections. The victory for Biden will have profound consequences for Europe and the world. The shift from Trump to Biden will be among the most startling in American history. US foreign, security and trade policy will see dramatic change. And whilst tackling the pandemic will be the first priority of course,  Biden-insiders say we should expect a 180-degree turn on climate change, with the US re-joining the Paris Accord by Executive Order, and using Executive orders to the full to promote climate action at home and abroad.

Meanwhile, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen has congratulated Joe Biden and Kamala Harris, outlining her priorities for intensified transatlantic cooperation, to address pressing global challenges. It’s probably in the field of climate action we are going to see the greatest cooperation and coordination. We discussed implications of the new administration for Europe, with our Brussels Group and Luther Pendragon colleagues in our US Presidential Election Show last week. Join us for a Special show on Thursday 12 November at 15:00 CET, 09:00 EST, with a special focus on the prospects for EU-US climate action, with our special guest from the States, Jessica Marcus, an expert in US and EU environmental and climate policy at Hirschler Law.

Second, those new EU plans announced in the European Commission’s Work Programme. 44 to be precise, to reform Europe, to address the climate and digitalisation challenge, and to strengthen resilience.  One priority will be alternative fuels, to improve air quality and to decarbonise transport. We’ve heard a lot about hydrogen recently from European Commission Vice-President Frans Timmermans, but Transport Commissioner Adina Vălean’s is promoting LNG in the maritime sector as a pathway to decarbonisation and dramatically improved air quality, explaining we can’t wait a decade or more for untested hydrogen and ammonia. New EU proposals on alternative fuels will be unveiled in the the first quarter of next year.

A lot more information in the film we’ve made.

Third, Brexit, another crunch week with more top level talks in London, but our view remains the same. The deal, if there is a deal, will be so thin the changes for our economy and trade and travel will be profound, deal or no deal. So get ready. Have you answered that quick test of your readiness yet?

Finally, what’s coming up? 9 December, the publication of the European Commission’s new Strategy for Sustainable and Smart Mobility, which will replace the 2011 White Paper. Setting a new framework for EU transport law for the next decade. And of course, 14 December. The US Electoral College meets.  Surely the election counting and legal challenges must be over by then, and the real work on transition, with that focus on climate and renewed transatlantic co-operation, will begin!

1. New round of Brexit negotiations start ahead of key week of talks
EU and UK officials have resumed trade talks in London at the start of another key week for the negotiations, with Boris Johnson having said on Sunday that the “outlines” of an agreement were clear and a deal was “there to be done”. This week’s talks start following a weekend phone call between Boris Johnson and Ursula von der Leyen, and on a week where the House of Lords look likely to vote down controversial clauses in the government’s Internal Market Bill. Earlier today, Barnier tweeted that there were three ways for the UK and the EU to reach a deal: 1) Respect of EU autonomy and UK sovereignty, with effective governance and enforcement mechanisms between international partners, 2) Robust guarantees of free and fair trade and competition based on shared high standards, evolving coherently over time and 3) Stable and reciprocal access to markets and fishing opportunities in the interest of both parties.

2. Transport Commissioner Valean exchange of views in ENVI Committee on maritime emissions
Last week, Transport Commissioner Valean had an exchange of views with the Committee on reducing emissions in maritime transport and, more specifically, on progress at the IMO to do this. The press release from the ENVI Committee is quite clear, MEPS are disappointed and frustrated with the lack of progress at the IMO level and expressed their concerns to Commissioner Valean. Reigning in emissions from the maritime sector is one of the key objectives of the European Union, and the European Parliament also recently agreed its position that the maritime sector should be included in the ETS. On shipping emissions, Valean stated that “When it comes to cleaner energy use, we are working full speed on finalising the proposal for FuelEU Maritime. Its adoption is now scheduled in early 2021, to allow for a robust analysis of best policy options and their capacity to deliver on our emission reduction objectives. It will seek to reduce the overall carbon intensity of fuels used in shipping, and set strict emissions standards for ships in ports.”

3. Intelligent transport systems (review of EU rules)
Last week, the European Commission launched its public consultation on reviewing EU rules on intelligent transport systems. The consultation will run until February 2nd, 2021. The roadmap attached to the consultation states that “The deployment of ITS infrastructure and services among Member States still often remains restricted to a limited geographical scope and is not continuous” and that “his has reduced the effectiveness of this deployment and it will not achieve its full potential in improving the functioning of the transport system and associated benefits, notably to increase road safety and traffic efficiency, promote multimodality and reduce negative externalities such as congestion, air pollution and CO2 emissions.” The review will therefore look at whether the EU can speed up the development of the ITS services in Europe, and help prevent this sector emerging in a more fragmented manner.

4. The European Way
UKTiE Coordinator Mark Watts has written a new blog on EU policymaking, across all sectors, is changing to fall in line with a new concept of European sovereignty, otherwise known as the ‘European Way’. What are the policy drivers behind this concept?

5. UKTiE has also put together the latest timetable. We will keep this up to date as the process develops:

  • 10 November 2020 – Next TRAN Committee meeting.
  • 10 November 2020 – Next ENVI Committee meeting.
  • 12 November 2020 – US presidential Election Show with special focus on the prospects for EU-US climate action.
  • 9 December 2020 – Smart and Sustainable Mobility Strategy.
  • 10-11 December 2020 – European Council summit.
  • 14 December 2020 – US Electoral College elects US President.
  • 31 December 2020 – End of current Multi Annual Financial Framework.
  • 31 December 2020 – End of Transition Period (tbc).
Mark Watts
UK transport in Europe (UKTiE)
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