UK Transport and Brexit News & Views No. 63

Mark’s Brexit Week for Transport

After getting more certainty regarding the length and process of the transition period, there has been a growing realization that a longer transition will be needed in order to get the necessary arrangements in order. These rumours merely add further uncertainty for businesses to have to contend with and almost feels like a regression in the negotiations. Whilst many, ourselves included, were relieved when the transition details were agreed, our relief was not exclusively directed at what was agreed but also towards the certainty that an agreement provided. UK transport needs certainty so that preparations can be started in order to minimise the impact and have a softer landing into the post-Brexit arrangements.

The Brexit negotiations have started back up again today in Brussels, with the clock ticking on several Brexit issues needing to be resolved. Expect the negotiation chaos to get into a higher gear as we approach next month’s European Council but in the midst of the chaos, we need to keep making the case for transport in the negotiations.

Lastly, we will be sending our reply to Steve Baker MP to put some pressure on the UK government to publish a position paper for transport. UKTiE has published one, it would be good if you could endorse it.

Contact me directly if you would like to learn more. 

1. GDPR Opt-In
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2. EU position on Possible Framework for Future Partnership Discussions not good for UK transport
Michel Barnier presented the European Parliament’s Brexit Steering Group with the Possible Framework for Future Partnership Discussions. The news is not good for UK transport as it will be subject to ‘third country’ status. The slide also confirms that aviation will be treated as port of horizontal transport negotiations. We at UKTiE believe that any agreement on transport should me much more ambitious but we cannot rely on the UK Government until we know where it stands. Therefore, we have published our own position paper and will continue to put pressure on the Government to publish its own.

3. Tracking lorries won’t solve Irish border issue, hauliers say
The Guardian reports that the Freight Transport Association has told David Davis that the use of tracking devices on lorries crossing the Irish border after Brexit would be pointless. Seamus Lehany, the head of the Freight Trade Association in Northern Ireland said that “a haulier could lift a full trailer in Birmingham but it could contain 40 different consignments from 40 different producers. Then it comes to Northern Ireland and is broken down with mixed loads on different trucks going to different places, so a tracking device telling you the original truck had crossed a border doesn’t tell you anything”. One haulier at the meeting, William Dennison, said Davis repeatedly told them there would not be any infrastructure on the border. “If there was going to be no hard border why were we having a meeting?” said Dennison, who transports furniture across Ireland for companies including DFS and Marks & Spencer. This comes as the tension surrounding the Irish border issues reaches a peak as the UK seeks to present a workable solution at next month’s European Council, the supposed deadline for presenting such a solution.

4. EasyJet, Ryanair Court EU Investors on Concern Over Hard Brexit
Bloomberg report that  EasyJet and Ryanair are shoring up their shareholder base in continental Europe in order to safeguard their right to fly there after post-Brexit. The article outlines that EasyJet, based in Luton, is holding investor roadshows in France and Germany this week and last week in a bid to increase the proportion of stock held within the European Union once Britain leaves. Ryanair, Europe’s biggest discount airline, said Monday that it will remove the voting rights of non-EU holders in the event of a so-called hard Brexit. Ryanair wouldn’t currently fulfill the EU criteria after Brexit because it has 20 percent of its shareholders in the U.K. and a large number of U.S. investors holding American depositary receipts. While EasyJet’s EU ownership is at 49 percent, short of the required majority, once UK ownership is excluded from the numbers. As we approach March 2019, there will invariably be an increase in stories detailing how companies are preparing for various Brexit scenarios. The issue is, however, that while it is good to see companies like RyanAir and Easy Jet undertaking preparatory work, many companies that should be taking precautionary measures have simply delayed making any decisive decisions in the hope that the Brexit talks bring about a good solution. What is your company doing to prepare for various Brexit outcomes? Contact us to find out what you should be doing. 

5. British Chambers of Commerce raise domestic agenda warning in light of the political agenda being dominated by Brexit
The British Chambers of Commerce have warned that efforts by the government to instil confidence as Britain leaves the European Union are “not good enough”. Despite Brexit dominating the domestic political agenda, the British Chambers of Commerce have called on the prime minister to set out a “far more explicit blueprint” for the economy, including clarification over immigration and an overhaul of the education system. With the Brexit legislative agenda already being rather tight, it is no surprise that other legislation has fallen down the pecking order. However, much of that legislation is very needed as we approach March 2019 as, due to the sheer scope of leaving the EU, a lot of it is related to filling the regulatory gaps post-Brexit. To use a now overly-used Brexit cliché, the clock is ticking.

6. Government announces Operation Brock as new plan to avoid cross-Channel congestion
As Sky News reports, that under a new plan codenamed Operation Brock, the Government plans to section off the entire southbound carriageway of a 13-mile stretch of the M20 in Kent to hold around 2,000 lorries in the event of severe cross-Channel congestion. The coastbound section of the M20 between Junction 8 near Maidstone and Junction 9 near Ashford will be earmarked to hold Heavy Goods Vehicles, in what will effectively become a giant temporary lorry park. In order to prepare, Highways England will need to spend £25m, including the purchase of several tens of thousands of cones, and the hardening of both the hard shoulders to cope with normal traffic. The big question arising from these new plans- will this new version of Operation Stack be able to help handle the post-Brexit congestion?

7. 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.
  • 28-29 June 2018- European Council summit.
  • 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.
  • 18-19 October 2018 – European Council summit.
  • 30 March 2019 – Britain formally exits the EU, following ratification of Brexit by all other member states and the European Parliament.
  • May 2019 – European Parliament election.
  • 31 December 2020 – End of transition period.
Mark Watts
Co-ordinator
UK transport in Europe (UKTiE)
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