Mark’s Brexit Week for Transport

Firstly a quick plug for our 7th annual forum to be held in the European Parliament on Tuesday 28 November.  This year’s UKTiE forum will focus on planned EU policy and regulatory changes that will affect the UK road, rail, maritime and aviation sectors, whether we’re in the EU or not. Places are limited so register now.

By the end of this week’s European summit we will know whether or not there has been sufficient progress in the Brexit talks to allow the negotiations to move on to trade and transport. Helpfully, the ever efficient EU have already leaked the summit conclusions (see below), and it is no surprise given the talks were described as ‘deadlocked’ by Michel Barnier last week, that the draft concludes there hasn’t been sufficient progress. This I guess explains the dinner tonight in Brussels between Theresa May, David Davies and Olly Robbins for the UK side and Jean-Claude Junker, Michel Barnier and Martin Selmayr for the EU side.

What is also of particular significance is that the draft conclusions seek a mandate to authorise Michel Barnier and the European Council to begin internal preparatory discussions for trade talks. Internal preparations are of course not the same as talks, but this would indeed represent welcome progress. It certainly underlines the point I’ve been making since the notification of Article 50 that the UK transport sector should be engaging in Brussels with the EU institutions and national capitals, such as Berlin and Paris, to influence those preparations.

Whilst it is true no formal talks have begun there is no shortage of enthusiasm here to hear from us as to what sort of trade deal we want for transport, and the facts, evidence and legal framework that would underpin it. Of course the summit’s draft conclusions may yet change, but I think we can be confident that, irrespective of how well tonight’s dinner goes, whilst Britain will be told it must try harder, behind the scenes the preparatory work on a transport deal will begin in earnest. And as with all EU proposals it is much harder to change them once they are published.

1. Please save the date for UKTiE 7th Annual Forum

UKTiE’s Annual Forum will take place on November 28th in the European Parliament, kindly hosted by our patron Jacqueline Foster MEP. The theme for the Forum is “Clean, connected and competitive – how to modernise Europe’s transport system” and we are inviting key senior EU policy and law makers to join us.

2. UKTiE speaks to Sky News
I spoke to Sky News in my capacity as co-ordinator for UKTiE last Thursday on the dangers for the transport industry of slow Brexit progress or a “no deal” scenario. I told their Europe Correspondent Mark Stone that “The Government urgently needs a Brexit plan for transport”

3. UKTiE publishes joint statement with other leading industry groups
Together with AmCham EU, the BAB, the British Chamber of Commerce Belgium and EU and the Trans-Atlantic Business Council, UKTiE are urging Brexit negotiators to agree on a business-friendly & efficient transitional arrangement.  This is vital if we are to avoid a cliff-edge for the UK transport sector. A transitional arrangement should allow for ongoing UK participation in the Customs Union and the Single Market.

4. Fifth round of negotiations take place
Speaking at a press conference after the fifth round of negotiations, Michel Barnier said there was “new momentum” in the process but there was still “deadlock” over how much the UK pays when it leaves, which he called “disturbing”. Brexit Secretary David Davis said he still hoped for the go-ahead for trade talks when EU leaders meet at a Council summit this week.

5. Council Summit to decide if “sufficient progress” has been made
UKTiE has seen a draft of the Council’s conclusions from the meeting later this week, which welcomes the progress made on citizen’s rights and the Irish border but notes that the UK has not given a firm and concrete commitment as regards the financial settlement. They will not approve moving on to the second phase during this Council session, but hope to do so in the next one in December and in that vein, invite EU negotiators to start internal preparatory discussions.

6. Germany and France setting a tougher stance
Germany and France have pushed to include a reference to the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice in the Council’s conclusion as a reminder to London that the first phase of Brexit negotiations is nowhere near completed and that the divorce terms are not settled. PM May was there in person to encourage Chancellor Merkel to end the stand-off. She will also be in Brussels this week to meet with Mr Barnier and Mr Juncker ahead of the summit.

7. Chris Grayling believes membership of EASA will continue
Transport Secretary, Chris Grayling spoke to Andrew Marr over the weekend about the implications of a “no deal” scenario. Mr Grayling said he does not believe there is the remotest danger that planes stop flying. In response to that Mr Marr asked if that meant the UK would stay part of EASA to which Mr Grayling replied that he would expect that at the end of the negotiations. Mr Marr expressed surprise as that comes under the purview of the European Court of Justice. Mr Grayling replied “Well, it doesn’t really. There isn’t a judicial part of this, it’s a cooperative arrangement. It has countries inside the European Union and countries outside the European Union who participate in it and work together to look after our airline safety. And that’s going to carry on come what may.” See the full transcript here.

8. 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
  • 19-20 October 2017 – European Council to review progress of negotiations
  • 28 November 2017 – UKTiE Annual Forum
  • 14-15 December 2017 – European Council to review progress of negotiations
  • TBC – UKTiE  & Norton Rose Fulbright Summit: Customs arrangements after Brexit.
  • 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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