Mark’s Brexit Week for Transport

Hope you had a good summer!

As the Brexit negotiations resume here in Brussels, UKTiE has returned from the summer break and hit the ground running with a series of initiatives to ensure greater prominence is given to transport in the Brexit negotiations. 

First, next Tuesday we are hosting an event in the House of Lords to discuss the case for a specific UK Government ‘Brexit Plan for Transport’. The Government have published eleven position papers, but so far none specifically on transport. 

Second, also next week, we meet Michel Barnier’s Task Force 50 in Brussels, for what we hope will be the first of a series of UKTiE meetings to inform the Brexit process of behalf of the UK transport industry.  As the UK’s only multi-modal transport association we are uniquely well-placed to ensure we speak with one voice. 

Third, we’ve produced our own position paper, which outlines the key ingredients of a good Brexit deal for UK transport: the need for an agreement on EU-UK transport regulation; the principle of reciprocal market access; participation in the work of the EU agencies; new customs arrangements; and the Irish question. This paper will help give more coherence and structure to the Brexit discussions and help everyone in industry better tailor their messages to reflect cross-modal priorities. 

Last but not least, as one of the first organisations to make the case for a transitional arrangement, we’re delighted that many other business groups, the Opposition and to a significant extent the Government, now realise a transition period is the only way to avoid a cliff-edge for transport and all the businesses and consumers we serve.   So fourthly, we’re planning an event in the European Parliament in November to promote our position paper, and in particular mobilise support across Europe. Persuading the UK Government to support us is important, but let’s not forget in order to deliver a transitional arrangement and the best possible Brexit deal for transport we need to persuade the EU27 and the European Parliament that it is in their interests too! 

For the EU, transport is not currently a priority in the negotiations, that has to change soon. And the EU side has made it clear that when negotiations do commence they will negotiate the sector horizontally, so we must work as one.  There’s an enormous amount of work ahead of us, but by working together we have already achieved a great deal more than individual road, rail, sea and aviation companies and organisations could possibly have achieved alone.  And as we step up our activities in London, Brussels, Paris and elsewhere, I’m increasingly confident that we can successfully make the case that the future economic success of Britain and Europe as a whole relies on us getting the best possible Brexit deal for transport. 

1. Third round of Brexit talks this week
EU and UK Brexit negotiators have begun meeting again today in Brussels for the third round of Brexit talks, which resumed following a brief press conference yesterday. Like in the previous talks, they will focus on the financial settlement, citizen’s rights and Northern Ireland’s border. It is expected that the UK will present a legal analysis of the financial settlement, having previously been criticized for “a lack of substance” which stymied the earlier talks. Other points such as the Euratom treaty are also expected to be addressed. EU officials told EURACTIV that “no big breakthrough” is expected at this round of talks. UKTiE is concerned that at the current pace formal horizontal negotiations on transport may not commence for some months.

2. Twenty position papers to date
After a flurry of activity over the summer, the EU now counts nine negotiating papers and the UK has eleven. See here for Brexit Central’s thorough analysis of all the documents in one place. Their analysis concludes that the source of tension lies within what is not in the papers, ie, mention of a future relationship. The UK’s attempt to discuss the future relationship in parallel with the separation issues was rebuffed by Michel Barnier yesterday, who stated that “The EU27 and the European Parliament stand united,” and added: “They will not accept that separation issues are not addressed properly.” The UK continues to insist that many of the areas in the withdrawal agreement cannot be meaningfully resolved without some discussion of the future relationship between the UK and the EU.

3. UKTiE event in the House of Lords
Next Tuesday (5th September), UKTiE will be holding an event in the House of Lords “A Brexit Deal for Transport”. The event is kindly being hosted by our member Rail Freight Group’s Chairman, Lord Tony Berkeley. We plan to present a broad view of what the challenges and opportunities for the transport sector will be during the negotiations, focus on what the new UK-EU relationship on transport should look like and make the case for the Government bringing forward a ‘Brexit Plan for Transport.’ Speakers include Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for DfT, Lord Callanan, Shadow DExEU Spokesperson, Baroness Hayter, Partner at Norton Rose Fulbright, Emma Giddings and presentations by UKTiE members, including Andrew Haines, CEO of the CAA.

4. UKTiE meeting with Task Force 50
Next Thursday, (7th September) UKTiE will meet Michel Barnier’s Task Force 50, which is the European Commission’s dedicated task force to preparing and conducting the Brexit negotiations with the UK. We have prepared a submission with based on our Brexit priorities letter and will discuss how securing the best possible Brexit for transport is essential for the UK and the EU. 

5. Labour clarifies its stance on Brexit
Shadow Brexit Secretary Sir Keir Starmer set out Labour’s position on Brexit in the Observer last weekend. Sir Keir  wrote that Labour would seek a transitional deal that would allow the UK to remain in the EU’s Customs Union and the Single Market. As for how long this transitional period would be he said “as short as possible, but as long as is necessary”. Several have criticised what they see as a U-turn in policy, while others, like the SNP, believe that Labour’s stance did not go far enough. However the announcement will probably strengthen the hand of anti-Brexit Conservatives to push for a softer split with the EU, not least because it brings the Opposition into line with various business and trade-union organisations who have made similar demands over the summer.

6. 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
  • 28 August 2017 – Third round of talks
  • 5 September 2017 – UKTiE Transport & Brexit event in the House of Lords, London,  ‘A Brexit Deal for Transport’, 17:00-19:00. Register here.
  • 7 September 2017 – UKTiE meets with Team Barnier (TF50) to commence discussions on transport and Brexit
  • 18 September 2017 – Fourth round of talks
  • 24 September 2017 – German Federal election
  • 9 October 2017 – Fifth round of talks
  • 30 October 2017 – UKTiE  & Norton Rose Fulbright Summit: Customs arrangements after Brexit.
  • 28 November 2017 – UKTiE Annual Forum
  • 30 September 2018 – Date by which EU’s chief Brexit negotiator, Michel Barnier, wants to conclude the terms of Britain’s exit from the Union.
  • 30 March 2019 – Britain formally exits the EU, following ratification of Brexit by all other member states and the European Parliament.
  • June 2019 – European Parliament election
Mark Watts
UK transport in Europe (UKTiE)

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