UK Transport and Brexit News & Views No. 80

Mark’s EU Week for Transport

The mood music here in Brussels seems to be that things are moving in the Brexit negotiations, but are they moving quickly enough for a November European Council summit to be convened? We’ve been here before, of course. With all the noise and news around Brexit, it’s easy to think that things are progressing. But in reality, both sides are sticking to their arguments around the same issues they’ve been discussing for two years now.  However, we at UKTiE remain optimistic about the negotiations but we are also realistic in our belief that preparations need to be made for Brexit and beyond. Working with our partner IDA, we will be launching a Brexit preparedness tool in the form of a risk register at our annual forum in two weeks. 

Looking beyond Brexit, we need to begin analysing 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 the 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.

This week’s song of the week, ‘I Feel it Coming by the Weeknd.

1. UKTiE Forum- November 20th
This year’s UKTiE Forum will take place on the afternoon of Tuesday 20 November in the European Parliament, hosted as every year by our Patron Jacqueline Foster MEP. This year’s forum will feature expert speakers including: the Permanent Representation of the UK to the EU, the Mission of Switzerland to the EU, the UK Department for Exiting the EU, the European Free Trade Association, the Japanese Business Council in Europe, MEPs and UKTiE members.

The UKTiE Forum is a unique platform facilitating dialogue between UK transport organisations and EU officials, politicians and stakeholders and this year’s event will discuss ‘Looking beyond Brexit: influencing EU transport legislation as a third country’.

Bringing together a number of high level speakers from both sides of the Channel, the forum represents an important opportunity to assess the UK’s role as a future third country, discuss and learn from other third country models, and debate how leading UK transport businesses and organisations can work together to ensure the UK’s transport interests continue to be protected and promoted in EU legislation. Irrespective of the outcome of the Brexit negotiations, EU transport legislation will continue to largely apply in the UK for the foreseeable future.

A link to the Programme for the UKTiE Forum can be found here

More information on the UKTiE Forum and on UKTiE can be found on our website: https://uktie.eu/events/

2. Cabinet aims for Brexit deal by end of November
The BBC reports that senior ministers have agreed they want to reach a Brexit deal with the EU by the end of November. EU negotiator Michel Barnier hinted at such progress when he told a Belgian broadcaster that the Irish border remained the main hurdle to be overcome but if enough progress is made he would recommend that a summit is convened to finalise the deal. The BBC also shared  an apparent timetable of how the Government might try to sell a Brexit deal to the public and parliament. It shows the Government feeling the urgency for a Brexit deal to be agreed this month, but also the perception that such a deal will need to be carefully sold to the public and the Parliament. The big question is: will this be enough to get a deal done by the end of the month?

3. Theresa May creates new business councils for increased industry input
Theresa May has announced the formation of five new business councils to advise on how to create the best business conditions in the UK after Brexit. Executives from BT, BAE, Rolls-Royce, Prudential, Santander, Tesco, Timpson, ITV and GSK will attend, as will representatives from the CBI, Institute of Directors, EEF, British Chambers of Commerce and the Federation of Small Business. The creation of these business councils comes days after more than 70 business figures signed a letter to the Sunday Times calling for a public vote on the UK’s Brexit deal and ahead of the launch of a group called Business for a People’s Vote on Thursday. While this new input is surely good news for industry, will its views be taken seriously? What impact will this have on Government Brexit preparations and future relationship planning?

4. Eurotunnel preparing for increased checks in Calais post-Brexit
Euractiv reports on the state of affairs in Calais as the Eurotunnel site prepares for additional checks to be implemented post-Brexit. There are currently eight checkpoints but it is not yet known if this number will increase post-Brexit. The only certainty that Calais can operate on is that the police, customs and veterinary services will have to carry out additional checks. The number of checks will, of course, vary according to the agreement reached between London and Brussels. These checks are costly and, in particular, time-consuming. However, those delivering express parcels, one of the tunnel’s major clients, often promise to deliver within half an hour of a specified time. Meaning that any delay could be quite problematic. The same pressure is felt by the “just-in-time” deliveries, whether they concern German suspension, Dutch exhaust pipes, Hungarian seatbelts or Spanish wheels. British car manufacturing plants, which put a million cars on the European market every year, only operate with two hours of stock at the most, leaving them concerned regarding the potential for any delays in these deliveries.

5. Getting serious about decarbonising the EU transport sector?
Mark’s October blog covered 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 will continue to focus on decarbonisation but will look at the European Commission’s proposals to limit CO2 from heavy duty vehicles.

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.
  • 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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