UK Transport and Brexit News & Views No. 71

Mark’s EU Week for Transport


Welcome back to UKTiE’s News & Views after the long summer break here in Brussels.  Transport policy, regulation and Brexit all hit the ground running last week, with a meeting of the Transport Committee of the European Parliament and a ‘long’ meeting between Michel Barnier and Dominic Raab, the now not so new UK Secretary of State for Brexit. Apparently 80% of the Brexit withdrawal deal has been agreed, but sticking points, including customs and the Northern Ireland Border remain as unresolved as ever. And let’s not get too carried away. None of this includes transport, because those negotiations haven’t even started.

On EU transport policy and regulation, the volume of new legislation is reaching a climax ahead of the European elections in May next year. Almost every aspect of transport will be the subject of new EU regulations in the coming years, from CO2 emissions for cars and trucks, to new rules for  autonomous vehicles across modes. And, as I keep stressing, these regulations will continue to apply in the UK almost irrespective of the outcome of the Brexit negotiations.

So our work will intensify in the coming weeks on policy, regulation and Brexit. We meet this week with the Director-General of DG MOVE Henrik Hololei to discuss those new EU transport policies and regulations, and our planning for our annual Forum in the European Parliament in November moves up a gear. Please find the save the date for our forum here and please do let us know if you would like to attend.

Meanwhile, we will continue to push for more flesh on the bones of the Brexit White Paper, in terms of a transport deal that is further, faster and fairer than the one currently envisaged.  We can’t keep kicking the customs and transport cans down the road. I hope in the key weeks and months ahead you will join UKTiE to help ensure the best possible Brexit deal for transport.

Finally, I launch my new monthly blog today. It’s probably the only blog on transport and Brussels (can’t imagine why!) and I look forward to hearing your feedback.

This week’s song of the week, considering recent developments, is Abba’s Dancing Queen. Enjoy!

1. Mark Watts’ Monthly Transport Blog
Each month, Mark Watts, UKTiE Coordinator, will bring to us his monthly transport blog where he will offer his take on some of the key priorities on the Brussels transport regulatory scene. This month, in his blog, Mark writes that “sooner than anyone can imagine, we will be starting the new school term, in cities like Brussels, faced with one less thing to worry about. Sending our kids to school, in autonomous vehicles or modern trams, will be a real pleasure”. The question is, however, what work is being done behind the scenes on improving public acceptance and integration of autonomous technologies into public transport? To read more, you can find Mark’s full blog here.

2. Barnier ‘condemns’ Chequers proposals on future trade
Speaking to European car manufacturers, Michel Barnier said the British offer on customs was illegal and its suggestion of a “common rulebook” on goods would kill the European project. In what was a damning intervention from the EU’s Chief Brexit negotiator, Barnier warned European manufacturers that the streamlined system of imports and exports between the UK and the rest of Europe would come to an end.  Although there have been plenty of rumours surrounding Brussels’ view on the Chequers agreement, this represents the first outright refusal to an agreement that many feel would be the ‘softest’ Brexit that May could get through her party and Parliament. From Barnier’s perspective, the only way that the UK could maintain the benefits of the current economic model would be to follow the Norway model.

3. Channel supply chains at risk of adding ‘significant new administrative costs’ says KPMG
The Guardian reports that Bob Jones, director and Brexit customs lead at KPMG, said that “automotive clients that move goods frequently across the EU-UK borders as part of their manufacturing cycles could incur significant new administrative costs and some duties”. Jones further added that “the costs of each part crossing the border can snowball and compound through the supply chain to the point of vehicle manufacture. With duties of 10% on finished vehicles into the EU, and with 40% of UK production headed there, the worst-case ultimate costs for a significant UK automaker could increase by between £500m and £1bn”. This warning from KPMG comes along with a new assessment from Oxera which concludes that the costs incurred as a result of customs checks under a no-deal outcome suggest a £2.5bn bill. Speaking on the assessment, Andrew Meaney, said that “even under conservative assumptions around the increase in vehicles to be checked by member states, the costs to hauliers would amount to £2.5bn. None of this analysis includes the further costs associated with delays on surface transport routes to and from ports and railheads”. If you would like to more information on what the EU27 are doing to prepare the transport sector for Brexit, then please do get in touch with us. 

4. Forging ahead with autonomous transport?
Last week, the TRAN Committee met to discuss Wim van de Camp’s (EPP, NL) draft report titled “Autonomous Driving in European Transport”. Van de Camp highlighted that his draft report does not only address cars and trucks but also trains, ships and air transport. The draft report seeks to address the EU’s potential role as a leader in autonomous transport and whether there should be an overarching push at the European level or if the 28 Member States should individually forge ahead. Autonomous transport, as discussed in Mark’s Monthly blog, will be a legislative priority for the EU but there is debate, as raised by Wim de Camp, on whether the European Commission has been too focused on autonomous cars at the expense of pursuing autonomous innovations in other areas of transport.

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.
  • 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 with a specific Brexit focus.
  • 6 November 2018 – UKTiE Forum, European Parliament, Brussels
  • 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. (TBC)
Mark Watts
UK transport in Europe (UKTiE)
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