UK Transport and Brexit News & Views – Issue no. 9

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

As we highlight below the EU is going to begin drawing up its Brexit negotiating position in just over a month, a month earlier than expected. So if you have not already lobbied Brussels and briefed UK MEPs you should do so now. With the Government’s Brexit position on transport vague, fragmented and now encountering opposition, it’s vital you make your own case, provide solutions and get identified as a key transport stakeholder in Brussels. So my advice is to get your views onto one sheet of A4, send them to the right people in Barnier’s and Vehofstadt’s teams, and send a copy to your UK MEP(s). If you need help let us know. We can provide you with a submission template, and all the relevant contact details, or you can submit your views through UKTiE, which is already widely respected and formally registered in Brussels.

1. EU closing ranks on Brexit talks
These past few days have seen a toughening of attitude from the key EU Brexit players in their negotiating tactics. In addition to the European Commission chief negotiator’s expected demand of approximately 60 billion Euros from the UK in the settlement (France and Germany were pushing for a higher sum), the EU will not agree to start negotiating any trade deal until a conclusion is reached on the final Brexit bill. Meanwhile, the European Parliament’s chief negotiator Guy Verhofstadt added the finishing touches to this tougher stance, by making it clear that whilst part of a transitional deal the UK will not be able to withdraw from the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice, and stated that the European Parliament will adopt its negotiating position ahead of schedule – in March 2017. Coupled with the inability to negotiate the new trade deal at the same time as Brexit, Prime Minister May is potentially in store for a storm of protests from those who are seeking a clean break in two years’ time.

2. Sector priorities for UK Government in Brexit talks revealed
According to sources from the Government (quoted in The Times), only certain areas of transport will be treated as a priority during Brexit talks. According to the document quoted, high priority will be given to air transport and land transport (excluding rail). Maritime, ports and rail are not included either in the medium or low priority list. Even with these sectors high on the Government’s priority list, negotiations are on a collision course with other Member States who have diverging interests in the areas. For the air sector, Spain and Gibraltar will without doubt be on the negotiating agenda as the former will push for Gibraltar to be excluded from any future aviation deal. Companies should engage with UK representatives and allies at the EU level to ensure their concerns are also included in the upcoming negotiations. Let us know if you require help in reaching the relevant people.

3. UKTIE Special Seminar on the Customs Union – early solution needed
As previously reported, although the UK is leaving the Customs Union it will seek a new customs agreement. Even if the UK seeks to ensure this transition is as seamless and frictionless as possible, EU law may require a ‘hard border’ even if a comprehensive trade deal is reached. It will not be just between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland where we risk having a hard border, but in every port and airport handling European traffic. Indeed in recent days even some leading anti-EU campaigners have urged a rethink, and advocated for membership of the EEA to avoid ‘chaos’. An early solution on customs is therefore needed in order to allow time to plan and implement the new regime, minimising the cost and uncertainty and preventing lengthy queues and delays. UKTiE are planning a special seminar on the new customs agreement in the House of Lords hosted by Lord Berkeley. Let us know if you wish to sign up.

4. MEPs preparing position papers on the impact of Brexit on transport
Several UK MEPs dealing with Brexit are currently drafting a series of position papers on the impact of Brexit on the different modes of transport. Let us know if you wish to contribute to these papers.

5. Verhofstadt continues long list of Brexit meetings
The chief Brexit negotiator on behalf of the European Parliament, Guy Verhofstadt, is slowly but surely ploughing on with his Brexit meetings ahead of the triggering of Article 50. One of the most recent meetings was with Charlie Flanagan, the Irish Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade, with whom he discussed Brexit and the impact on Ireland. UKTiE is arranging a meeting with Verhofstadt’s team for its Brexit or 360 members. Get in touch should you wish to attend.

6. Peers bid to keep UK in EASA, EMSA & ERA
Peers have tabled an amendment asking that the Prime Minister publishes a report detailing the UK’s intended approach during the Brexit negotiations to ensure the country’s continued co-operation and participation in the work of the, inter alia, European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA), European Maritime Safety Agency (EMSA), European Union Agency for Railways (ERA). As you can read in our analysis of the White Paper, the Government’s current position on the agencies is ambivalent. Other amendments include remaining a member of the Single Market or joining the EEA and/or EFTA. Full list available for UKTiE 360 members.

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

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