Mark’s EU Week for Transport 
Welcome back to News & Views and my round up to all things EU, WattsUp!

The new political term here in Brussels has started with a bang, not a whimper, as the EU institutions gear up for probably the most challenging period in a generation, if not longer. The single biggest impression you gain, after a quick review of the EU agenda, is how huge the EU legislative work programme will be despite, maybe even because of COVID-19.

Of course, dealing with the pandemic, and its serious economic and social consequences, naturally remains the very first priority of the EU, and of course governments and business across Europe and worldwide.

But there are many other EU projects and ambitions for the future of Europe, which President von der Leyen will present in her very important speech on the State of the Union next week, on 16 September.

And as we all know the pandemic does not stop the Brexit clock from ticking. We are now less than four months away from 1 January 2021.

There is understandably much focus on the trade deal, in particular this week’s ‘crunch’ talks, and the possible unravelling of the Withdrawal Agreement, but the point we’ve been stressing for months now is that transport, & trade in transport related good and services, will change drastically irrespective of the outcome of the negotiations. And it’s not just at the border that we will seem radical change.  I highlighted this excellent 25 question checklist to help you check how ready you are, aimed at companies operating on the continent. It is equally helpful to those based in the UK.

Finally, tomorrow we will share details of the roundtable we’re co-hosting with UKMiss on how we can work even closer together in Brussels 2021, and beyond.

1. Legislative session re-opens following summer break
As Brussels slowly gets back to business following the summer recess as is the EU legislative agenda. With much left to accomplish before the end of the year, especially in the transport sector, the EU institutions will waste no time in getting back up to speed. Ahead of the end of the year, the Commission is expected to publish its long-awaited Strategy for Sustainable and Smart Mobility, billed as the transport pillar of the EU’s Green Deal. With this strategy, the Commission intends to reduce transport-related greenhouse gas emissions by 90% by 2050. This strategy will be accompanied by separate initiatives for the aviation and maritime sectors, FuelEU Maritime and ReFuelEU Aviation.

2. Brexit negotiations resume
This week, the Brexit negotiations resume for the 8th round of talks. With the talks increasingly becoming strained, the EU remains worried about the possibility of agreeing a deal with the UK. Breaking news over the weekend that the UK Government was seeking to undermine its commitments from the Withdrawal Agreement, through domestic legislation, would have done little to appease those concerns. With an October 15th deadline quickly approaching, how much progress the two sides can make will be quite time-constrained.

3. Phil Hogan out as Irish Commissioner, Commission reshuffle coming?
Last week, Phil Hogan resigned from the European Commission in the fallout from his attendance at a non-COVID compliant party at a golf course in Ireland. His departure as Trade Commissioner leaves European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen with a personnel headache as the Trade portfolio may well be wanted by some of the bigger Member States, which would cause a reshuffle in existing portfolios. European Parliament First Vice President Mairead McGuinness MEP and former EIB Vice President Andrew McDowell have been nominated, and von der Leyen will interview both before ultimately picking the new Commissioner. The breadth of any reshuffle, should any reshuffle take place, is unknown at this time and it is not expected that the transport portfolio would be involved in any potential changes.

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:

  • 11 September 2020 – Next ENVI Committee meetings
  • 23-24 September 2020 – Next TRAN Committee meetings
  • 15-16 October 2020 – European Council summit.
  • 10-11 December 2020 – European Council summit.
  • 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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