Mark’s EU Week for Transport 
With our new Prime Minister Boris Johnson at the helm, we have seen a clear intent to ramp up the messaging and the preparations around a No Deal Brexit. The UK Government has clearly shifted to a more proactive preparatory stance towards No Deal with the Government going as far as streamlining the Whitehall process to ensure adequate preparedness for October 31st. While it is hard to distinguish bluster from fact, it does appear that the new UK Government is, far from taking No Deal off the table, preparing for this scenario as the most likely outcome of what will certainly prove to be a failed attempt at renegotiation the Withdrawal Agreement.

So, with that in mind, what the EU is doing to prepare for a No Deal Brexit has become ever more important.

The European Commission has tabled 19 legislative proposals, 18 of which have been adopted by the European Parliament and Council, and many of them are relevant to transport, trade, and related industries. The Commission has also adopted 63 non-legislative acts and published 93 preparedness notices, again many are relevant to you. The exact regulatory framework for day 1 after Brexit is clearly spelt out in these notices and acts.

The Commission has concluded that there is no need to amend any of the substance of the measures as they remain fit for purpose, and does not plan any new measures ahead of exit day. So it really is time to examine these in close detail.

Indeed the Commission is encouraging stakeholders to take advantage of the extra time until 31 October 2019 to ensure that they have taken all the necessary actions to prepare for this possible, and increasingly likely, eventuality.

The next News & Views will therefore look at the relevant new Brexit laws and notices in more detail.  But in the meantime let us know if we can help you navigate them. In particular LP Brussels has produced a unique tool to a help companies involved in transport prepare for Brexit.

Whilst the focus will understandably remain on Boris and No Deal, the EU will continue to ramp up new regulatory proposals for transport with 16 new proposals remaining in the pipeline and new proposals expected from the European Commission, from passenger rights to tougher rules on carbon and air quality. Last week we attended the Transport and Environment Committee meetings and there were undeniable calls for action. So we will keep our eyes on both London and Brussels in the weeks and months ahead.

This week’s song of the week, is The Revolution Will Not Be Televised by the Gil Scott-Heron.

1. PSA threatens to pull plug on Vauxhall plant at Ellesmere Port
The Financial Times reports that PSA, the French carmaker that owns Vauxhall, will pull all production from Ellesmere Port and switch to a plant in mainland Europe if Brexit renders the British factory unprofitable.Carlos Tavares says that PSA has earmarked a site in Southern Europe to build future Vauxhall Astra and Opel Astra cars if the UK was not able to achieve a satisfactory outcome when leaving the EU. A worrying sign of this warning is that this threat does not merely center just around No Deal but also includes the possibility that a negotiated agreement could still cause the company to pull production from Ellesmere Port. 

2. UK Government to free up £1bn for no-deal Brexit planning
Sajid Javid, the new Chancellor of the Exchequer, is preparing to announce more than £1bn in increased funding for a no-deal Brexit after Michael Gove, the minister in charge of no-deal preparations, said such an exit was a “very real prospect”, adding substantially to the £4.2bn allocated to no-deal planning under Philip Hammond, the previous chancellor. Sajid Javid announced that the money would help cover hiring a further 500 UK border force officers, help for Britons living abroad and support for small businesses and new infrastructure around ports. This announcement comes as Boris Johnson begins a tour of Scotland and Wales as he seeks to counter claims that a No Deal Brexit would undermine the union of the United Kingdom. 

3.  The Finnish Presidency outlines its priorities in Transport and Environment Committees
Last week, the Finnish Presidency presented its priorities to the TRAN and ENVI Committees of the European Parliament in a series of exchanges of views with MEPs. On transport, the Finnish Presidency stated that it had four key areas of focus: digital transport services, the automation of transport, carbon-free transport and the data economy. They further stated that significant and rapid emission reductions across all modes in the transport sector were required to reach EU-level climate targets. Data and good connections were the key drivers for enabling seamless, cost-efficient and environmentally-friendly services. If you would like more information on these meetings, please do get in touch with us. 

4. Commissioner Bulc calls for ambitious but realistic Transport Committee
Meeting with the TRAN Committee of the European Parliament, Transport Commissioner Violeta Bulc said that one of they most pressing issues facing transport was the environmental impact of the sector. She further said that the Transport Committee, on this issue, needed to be ambitious but also realistic in such a way that it helps all stakeholders to deliver the ambitious goal of zero emissions by 2050. Bulc also stated that the priorities for the new European Commission on transport were the three zeros: zero emissions, zero bureaucracy and zero fatalities by 2050. If you would like more information on these meetings, please do get in touch with us. 

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

  • 29 March 2017 – A50 triggered.
  • 5 April 2017 – European Parliament adopted Brexit guidelines.
  • 22 May 2017 – Brexit negotiating directives approved by Council.
  • 19 June 2017 –  Negotiations formally began.
  • 23 March 2018– European Council agreed guidelines on the future trading relationship.
  • 23-26 May 2019 – European Parliament election.
  • 2-3 September 2019 – Next TRAN Committee meetings
  • 4-5 September 2019 – Next ENVI Committee meetings
  • 31 October 2019 – The UK will formally leave the EU. (tbc)
  • 01 November 2019 – Start of new European Commission mandate. (tbc)
  • 31 December 2020 – End of Transition Period (tbc).
Mark Watts
UK transport in Europe (UKTiE)
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