Mark’s EU Week for Transport 

Happy New Year!

2021 will be another challenging year, but as the vaccine begins to roll out across Europe and the world, we can see the bright lights of the new normal at the end of the long COVID-19 tunnel.

We can now confidently and increasingly turn our attention to rebuilding our economies, and a prerequisite for that is restoring connectivity. The incoming Portuguese Presidency of the EU Council has rightly described the next six months as the ‘Time to deliver a fair, green and digital recovery.’  We look forward to working with them, and the EU Institutions generally, to help them deliver that recovery, at this most challenging of times.

And we have a Brexit deal.

The Trade and Cooperation Agreement (TCA) now provides us with the legal framework for our new relationship with the EU. We should congratulate everyone involved, including Michel Barnier, David Frost and their respective teams, and the unsung transport heroes in the European institutions, UKMis and DfT, for making so much progress in transport, trade and travel.

Our UKTiE roundtable met last week, attended by 60 senior representative of many of Britain’s leading transport, trade and travel organisations, and received presentations from UKTiE, UKMis an DfT, which analysed the new agreement. It is unprecedented in terms of scope and content, providing the UK and EU with solid foundations for the future relationship, establishing zero tariffs and zero quotas on trade for goods that meet the relevant rules of origin.

For transport, basic connectivity for road, rail, sea and air is assured, with no cliff edge as was feared under a no-deal scenario. For the export of transport-related goods and services, access to the Single Market is provided for, but there are complex new rules to navigate.

On the ‘Level Playing Field’, both sides agreed to stay closely aligned in transport and, as outlined below, the EU side today signalled they will be closely monitoring UK compliance in transport, and will take robust remedial action if necessary.

So much remains to be done now to interpret, implement, review, simplify and strengthen the new relationship.  The agreement will be supervised by a new governance structure of committees and working groups and fora, which will require expertise and input from business in the UK and the EU.

The easing of the political heat, post the deal, enables both sides to draw a line under the disagreements, so NOW is the time to rebuild relationships and to clarify the arrangements going forward. For everyone involved in transport, trade and travel there is now HUGE opportunity for positive engagement with officials and to influence policy and the implementation of the TCA for the benefit of all.

It will be a challenge, but we are determined to make the new relationship a success.

Our roundtable will reconvene on 29 January, to discuss our plans for 2021. I hope you can join us!

Please do not hesitate to contact me if you would like any further information, including a copy of our full guide to the TCA for transport. 

1. European Commission presents Brexit deal in TRAN Committee
Today, officials from the European Commission presented what the TCA will mean for the transport sector during a meeting of the TRAN Committee. The Commission presentation focused on the road transport, aviation and aviation security aspects of the deal. What is apparent, beyond the technical aspects of the agreement, is that the level playing field arrangements that were agreed to (and also apply to the transport sector) are far more than just a theoretical concept, the EU will closely monitor compliance, including through the relevant TCA committee, and robustly exercise their powers to take remedial action if necessary. The Commission spoke of remedial measures that have been put in place should the implementation of the agreement or the level playing field arrangements not be respected by either side. The Commission’s presentation can be accessed here (relevant section starts at 13:46). 

2. UKTiE’s simple guide for the TCA
The new UK-EU partnership will bring a lot of changes for the transport sector. UKTiE has put together a plain & simple guide to navigate what the new UK-EU TCA agreement will all mean for transport. Below is a snapshot of this guide, if you would like the full version then please do get in touch.

3. Start of the Portuguese Presidency
The start of January saw the end of the German Presidency of the EU and the start of the Portuguese Presidency which will last until June. The Portuguese Presidency published a programme of priorities which states the following on transport: 

  • In addition to fostering the attractiveness of rail for the transport of people and goods, we will promote intermodality with sea transport, through commercial ports and greater provision of services and information.
  • As regards the trans-European transport network, we will give impetus to the completion of the core network by 2030 and to augmenting its density within the Union, in particular through increased capillarity in outlying areas and greater connectivity for the ORs. Together with the European Commission, we will host the Trans-European Transport Network (TEN-T) Days 2021 in Lisbon in June.
  • With regard to air transport, we will follow up on the European Commission’s legislative proposals, focusing on an effective Single Sky, passenger protection and other measures needed to bring stability to the sector following COVID-19, ensuring the full involvement of the Member States.
The Portuguese Presidency will run until the end of June 2021 at which point Slovenia will take over the Presidency until the end of 2021.

4. Sustainable and Smart Mobility: deep dive
UKTiE Chief Executive Mark Watts has taken a deep drive into the new Sustainable and Smart Mobility Strategy that was published by the European Commission in December 2020. Mark has identified six key takeaways you simply must know. The staff working document that was released alongside the Sustainable and Smart Mobility Strategy provides an essential blueprint for European, and indeed global transport policy and regulation for the next decade or more, and an indispensable guide to where the Commission is still looking for new ideas and fresh solutions. Mark also discusses the 82 concrete proposals, laid out within this document, many of them will become EU law or global standards over the next two or three years. 

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

  • 11 January 2021:  TRAN Committee meeting –  Agenda
  • 12 January 2021:  ENVI Committee meeting –  Agenda
  • 29 January 2021 – Reconvened joint UKTiE and UKMiS roundtable.
Mark Watts 
UK Transport in Europe (UKTiE)

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