UK Transport and Brexit News & Views No. 81

Mark’s EU Week for Transport

There has been a lot of Brexit news in the last week, with Jo Johnson’s resignation as Transport Minister (more on that later)  and the ever-growing confidence on the UK side for concluding the Withdrawal Agreement this week. However, we must not forget that the EU transport agenda continues on, irrespective of the status of Brexit negotiations. I have long called for the UK transport sector to keep an eye on forthcoming EU transport legislation, and this month I have decided to take a closer look in my blog at the EU’s decarbonisation efforts on Heavy Duty Vehicles (HDVs). Unlike the US, China, Japan and Canada, Europe does not yet regulate C02 emissions and fuel efficiency of HDVs. This glaring gap in the battle against climate change moves one big step closer to being plugged on Wednesday in Strasbourg, when MEPs are set to vote on the European Commission’s proposals on the CO2 emissions performance standards for new Heavy Duty Vehicles. Can the EU rise to the occasion as the rest of the world moves on?

Staying with the theme of looking beyond Brexit, our upcoming Forum next week will see experts from both sides of the Channel discuss and debate what the role of the UK may look like as a third country. We are certainly confident that this will prove a useful discussion for anyone trying to make sense of what it means to be a third country to the EU after the 29th of March next year. Our Forum will take 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, ‘The Show Must Go On‘ by Queen.

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. This year’s event will discuss ‘Looking beyond Brexit: influencing EU transport legislation as a third country and will be the largest ever gathering of its kind with EU experts and Britain’s leading transport companies and organisations in attendance.

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. Businesses call for state bailouts if UK crashes out of EU
Politico reports some of UK industry believe a no-deal Brexit could require UK government bailouts like those following the financial crisis to prevent businesses from going bankrupt. They see Brexit as a problem created by politicians that threatens to destroy British businesses and bring about an economic crisis. Despite the growing confidence in the Brexit negotiations reaching a Withdrawal Agreement in the coming days, it is far from certain that any deal will be ratified by MPs in Westminster. Furthermore, the UK could still leave with no deal at all, something that many among the country’s traders, manufacturers and in town halls say is too late to prepare adequately for. Ian Wright, CEO of the Food and Drink Federation, said that “If you’re an exporter and a significant proportion, say 30 percent or above, of your business is with the EU, or if you’re an importer and you have critical ingredients or products that you bring in from the EU — maybe you import feta cheese or salami — I think there’s probably relatively little you can do to be prepared for a no-deal Brexit. And for those businesses it’s perfectly possible that the disruption could be terminal”. The risks could not be higher for industry, but is there enough time for industry to get its concerns across in a meaningful way to shift the state of negotiations?

3. ICYMI- House of Commons publishes Brexit and Transport briefing paper 
Last week, the House of Commons published a briefing paper on Brexit and Transport which serves to capture the current state of affairs for the transport sector in the Brexit negotiations. The paper highlights that “one of the common issues discussed with relation to specific examples below is how much Brexit will impact the standards and regulations the UK chooses to apply in its transport sector. In many instances they are likely to be similar if not identical to the EU. This is because of the role the UK played in establishing those standards to our own satisfaction in the first place. For example, the UK has been a leading advocate for the development of the single market in transport across all modes. To which end the UK has usually found itself aligned with the European Commission in promoting liberal market-based aviation and maritime sectors…All of this suggests that transport in the UK post-Brexit may not look wildly different to how it looks now, the bigger question is how UK transport providers and businesses will interact with the EU in future and whether the benefits they currently enjoy when operating within the EU can be preserved”. The paper also touches upon the Swiss model as an ideal ‘third country model’ for the UK to emulate. The paper states that the EU-Swiss transport relationship, founded on two bilateral agreements on aviation and land transportation (road and rail), has interesting features that would appeal to the UK. While it has been known for some time that the UK wishes to emulate the Swiss ‘third country model’, primarily due to the flexibility it offers, it should be stated that the Swiss model has proven a managerial nightmare for the EU perspective and not something they would grant to the UK.

4. Will the EU rise to the challenge of decarbonising Heavy Duty Vehicles?
Last month, Mark’s blog posed the following question: ‘is the EU finally getting serious about decarbonising transport?’ and he analysed the latest EU plans to curb CO2 emissions from cars and light vans. This month, in his new blog, Mark covers the fact that unlike the US, China, Japan and Canada, Europe does not yet regulate C02 emissions and fuel efficiency of HDVs. However, this glaring gap in the battle against climate change moves one big step closer to being plugged on Wednesday in Strasbourg, when MEPs are set to vote on European Commission proposals on the CO2 emissions performance standards for new heavy-duty vehicles Heavy Duty Vehicles (HDVs), such as lorries, buses and coaches. The question is: will the EU rise to the challenge of decarbonising Heavy Duty Vehicles?

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, 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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