UK Transport and Brexit News & Views No. 78

Mark’s EU Week for Transport

Another busy week for UKTiE, as we met the forthcoming Romanian Presidency’s transport & Brexit team, who assume the EU Presidency from 1 January 2019. Critically, we will leave the EU during their watch. It was a constructive and informative meeting (as we set out below), and an important part of our efforts to build and strengthen our links here in Brussels with other EU Member States. This is because after 29 March we will no longer have any formal EU representation, yet our sector will continued to be regulated by the EU potentially for years to come.

But whilst we are focusing on Brexit, the EU continues to develop new transport policies and regulations which we must continue to monitor and influence, with the Mobility Packages taking up much of the legislators’ time. There are two key dossiers that are worth keeping an eye on because they will set the precedent for all modes in terms of decarbonation. The first seeks to reduce CO2 emissions from cars and light vans, and is now the subject of formal negotiations between the European Council and the European Parliament.  The second, on Heavy Duty Vehicles aims for the first time ever to set new CO2 standards for lorries, with potentially a 35% reduction of CO2 by 2030 if the European Parliament’s Environment Committee prevails. The EU institutions hope to wrap these up ahead of the European elections in May next year.  These are good examples of the need for the UK to continue to maintain a presence in Brussels because irrespective of the type of Brexit, it is pretty inconceivable that these rules won’t apply in the UK well beyond our date of departure, and of course will apply to everyone transiting the EU by car, light van or lorry. More on this in my blog and vlog next week.

At UKTiE we remain optimistic but we are also realistic in recognising that without a major political intervention from Theresa May, something which the domestic UK political scene is making harder and harder, we need to seriously begin ‘No Deal’ preparations. We also need to start looking beyond March and begin evaluating what our role will be towards the EU as a third country. This is why we are dedicating our upcoming UKTiE Forum to this topic, the theme of our forum being “Looking beyond Brexit: influencing EU transport legislation as a third country”. It takes place in the European Parliament on Tuesday 20th November. If you would like to join us and attend the forum, please do let us know.

Do ‘like’ this newsletter, share it, tell us your thoughts, register to secure your place at our Forum. And above all join UKTiE to shape the future.

This week’s song of the week, ‘Tomorrow Comes Today’ by the Gorrilaz.

1. UKTiE Forum- November 20th
The 8th Annual UKTiE Forum will take place on the afternoon of November 20th in the European Parliament. At this year’s event, we will be making the case for UK transport in Brussels after Brexit. Our chosen theme is “Looking Beyond Brexit: Influencing EU transport legislation as a third country”. With speakers outlining case studies and the role of business, this forum represents a great chance to conceptualize what the UK’s role as a third country could look like.  If you would like to join us for the UKTiE Forum, then please do let us know.

2. UKTiE Submission to House of Lords inquiry published
UKTiE’s submission to the House of Lords EU Internal Market Sub-Committee on their inquiry into future UK-EU Transport Arrangements has been published. We called for a Government approach to the future EU relationship which goes further, faster and is fairer. Amongst other submissions, the UK’s largest logistics firm Wincanton highlighted that the UK, as standard practice, only carries 5 days supply of food. The Department for Transport also submitted evidence to the inquiry and they promoted the Swiss third country model as one to emulate for the UK. DfT’s submission concludes that “some existing agreements between the EU and third countries provide a useful framework for shaping the UK’s future relationship with the EU with respect to transport, although bespoke arrangements may also be required”. The UKTiE Forum on the afternoon of November 20th will be dealing with exploring such third country models, do let us know if you would like to join us.

3. UKTiE meets with the Romanian Permanent Representation to the EU
This week, UKTiE met with the Romanian Permanent Representation to the EU in order to discuss the transport priorities of their forthcoming Presidency. The meeting was an opportunity for us to meet with our European partners to reaffirm UKTiE’s continued support for better transport regulation, irrespective of the outcome of the Brexit negotiations. Our belief is that the UK will continue to be influenced by, or even follow, EU transport legislation so we have and will continue to meet with the leading voices influencing the EU’s transport agenda.

4. National Audit Office says complicated new border controls may not be ready in time
The National Audit Office (NAO) has said that Britain will “pay the price” of a no-deal Brexit because complicated new border controls may not be ready in time, and thousands of UK exporters did not have enough time to prepare for new border rules. The NAO said that under a “no deal” up to 250,000 firms may need to fill out customs declarations forms for the first time, as Britain moves onto World Trade Organisation (WTO) rules. Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC) – which collects taxes at the border – could also have to deal with as many as 260 million customs declarations a year, up from 55 million. This story further confirms many fears that the UK will simply not be prepared for a no-deal Brexit scenario, even if preparations have already begun.

5. Getting serious on decarbonising the EU transport sector?
Mark’s blog this month covers the need for decarbonisation in the EU transport sector. He argues that it’s shocking that transport is the only sector of our economy where CO2 emissions have increased since 1990 and that transport is now Europe’s single biggest source of carbon emissions, contributing 27% to the EU’s total CO2 emissions, with cars and vans alone representing more than two thirds of that total. His blog this month tries to answer a critical question on the decarbonisation of the EU transport sector: is the EU finally getting serious about decarbonising transport, and cars and vans in particular?

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.
  • 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, wanted to conclude the terms of Britain’s exit from the Union.
  • 18-19 October 2018 – European Council summit with a specific Brexit focus.
  • 20 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.
  • 23-26 May 2019 – European Parliament election.
  • 31 December 2020 – End of transition period. (TBC)
Mark Watts
UK transport in Europe (UKTiE)
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