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Mark’s Brexit Week for Transport

As we get closer to the triggering of Article 50, we are starting to see both the transport industry and policy and law-makers move up a gear as they set out their stance for what they want from the new relationship between the UK, EU and the world.  The TRAN Committee has a draft position paper which we expect to be published soon – I have read through it and highlight below some of the questions it tries to answer – and is working on a draft resolution, setting out their Brexit red lines. MEPs are requesting impact overviews from industries, the UK Government is starting to look closer at aviation and customs, the Danish and Canadian Prime Ministers have been in Strasbourg and have had one to one meetings with British MEPs to discuss Brexit and priorities for future relationships. Meanwhile the technical meeting of the EU27 with Michel Barnier and other senior Commission staff revealed that not many of the participants have finalised their Brexit negotiating position. One diplomat described the meeting as more of a brainstorming session, with the EU budget and the future of citizens taking centre stage. Time is of the essence, so if you have not already briefed the relevant people it is important to do so soon. 

1.TRAN Committee gives preliminary assessment of Brexit

The European Parliament’s TRAN committee has given a preliminary assessment on the UK’s withdrawal from the EU, mode by mode, dossier by dossier. The report answers questions as to what the possible impact will be on legislative files currently under discussion and what the likely impact is on these legislative files if they are not concluded pre-Brexit. Furthermore, they discuss what transport concerns should be included in the withdrawal agreement, the future UK-EU agreement and also what new elements could be added that are not currently in the acquis. These are also the questions that transport companies need to be asking and answering themselves. A draft resolution on the EP’s Brexit red lines, which will be debated and adopted in March or April (depending on when Article 50 is triggered), has been obtained by UKTiE. It is generally unhelpful. Let us know if you would like more information as to how it might impact your sector.

2. MEPs request comprehensive Brexit impact overviews from industries

MEPs are not taking any chances on their Brexit preparations. February will see two key committees hold events on Brexit related issues – the Internal Market Committee and the Transport Committee. Whilst the first aims for a good overview of Brexit, the latter’s hearing will address the economic losses suffered by transport companies due to border checks. The latter issue is of particular importance in light of Brexit and the high probability of increased border checks as the UK leaves the EU. Meanwhile MEPs are preparing their individual analysis on the sector impact of Brexit. As mentioned in our earlier editions, UKTiE has been tasked with putting together an oversight of the impact for UK transport, report which is being produced with the contributions of our UKTiE Brexit Members. Let us know should you wish to submit your analysis. 

3.The Brexit ‘To Dos’ in aviation for the UK Government
In last week’s edition of UK Transport News and Views, we presented the UK Government’s Brexit priority list for negotiations – with aviation among the top concerns. A recent survey conducted by ComRes at the request of AOA revealed that more than 86% of 152 MPs surveyed agree with the Government’s approach to aviation. In addition, MPs stressed the importance of securing new international aviation agreements as Brexit negotiations progress. Meanwhile Eamonn Brennan, the chief executive of the Irish Aviation Authority, emphasized the urgent need for Air Services Agreement between the UK and Ireland – which is of crucial importance to trade and tourism. In contrast, the Government’s approach of ‘no deal is better than a bad deal’ is not seen well by 65% of British citizens according to a new ICM survey.

4.Challenges for the future EU-UK aviation relationship

Recent signals from Spain have confirmed the plans to block future UK-EU air access deal unless the terms exclude Gibraltar airport. A long standing quarrel between UK and Spanish representatives in the EU, this dispute puts in jeopardy Britain’s ability to negotiate a deal to maintain access to Europe’s skies for its industry, despite aviation’s top priority listing by the UK. This hard line on aviation negotiations appears not to be the only one from the EU side. Lufthansa’s CEO Carsten Spohr has recently stated his support for a hard Brexit, in contrast to the approach of International Airlines Group and easyJet CEOs, who underline the importance of continuing the liberalization of aviation after Brexit. With these statements, the red lines of the EU27 actors are becoming clearer. Whilst some may see Brexit as a means to solve longstanding disputes, industry representatives are perceiving the opportunities for their business.

5. Canadian and Danish Prime Ministers discuss Brexit and future UK trade deals in Strasbourg 
This week the Canadian Prime Minster Justin Trudeau and Danish Prime Minister Lars Loekke Rasmussen met with MEPs in Strasbourg, including leading British MEPs Syed Kamall and Claude Moraes. They spoke about the Brexit negotiations and what the priorities should be for future trade deals with the UK.

Mark Watts
Co-ordinator
UK transport in Europe (UKTiE)

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