Mark’s Brexit Week for Transport

One of the things I learnt as an MEP is never wait until the meeting in Brussels to do a deal. That’s much too late. Even a week before is too late.  EU deals are done weeks if not months in advance, informally and behind the scenes. And so it will be with Brexit. Take last week’s summit. It took just 90 seconds to discuss Brexit and to agree a significant 100 word statement allowing the start of preparations for a trade deal.  We were even able to preview the exact same wording in News & Views last week. That’s how Brussels works.  The statement is significant because Brussels now has a mandate to talk about trade, transport and a transitional arrangement. Albeit officially not with the UK Government – but behind the scenes it will be open season.

To influence those preparations we need to be very clear as to what we want.  Take Britain’s future membership of the European Agencies such as EASA, EMSA and the EU Railway Agency.  UKTiE is very clear. We need to remain a member of the Agencies and accept the full the rights and responsibilities that flow from that.  Unfortunately the UK Government’s position is still not clear. Although the Secretary of State for Transport recently told Andrew Marr he would like to remain a member of EASA, last week the Under Secretary of State told Baroness Hayter, in a reply to her Parliamentary Question, that the Government was still ‘considering carefully’ the Agency issue.  So this week, whilst we continue to engage with our EU partners, we will also seek to persuade the Government to  be clear about what we want from Brexit for transport, including the Agencies. Sooner rather than later.

Finally, do register for UKTiE’s Annual Forum to learn more about planned EU transport regulations, and receive an all-important Brexit update from key decision-makers.

1. Several speakers confirmed for UKTiE’s 7th Annual Forum
UKTiE’s Annual Forum will take place on November 28th in the European Parliament. The theme for the Forum is “Clean, connected and competitive – how to modernise Europe’s transport system”. Speakers invited include among others our host, Jacqueline Foster MEP (Conservative Transport Spokesman), Lucy Anderson MEP (Labour Transport Spokesperson), Karima Delli MEP (Chair of the European Parliament’s TRAN Committee), and David Kerr (Maritime Affairs, Maltese Permanent Representation). Spaces are limited – register here

2. EU Leaders adopt formal conclusions on Brexit declaring “no sufficient progress”
Meeting in Brussels on Thursday and Friday, the European Council adopted formal conclusions on Friday morning that declared that “no sufficient progress” had been made in the Brexit negotiations. They did, however, agree to begin “internal preparatory discussions” among the EU27 regarding the future relationship between the UK and the EU. The pledge by the EU27 to begin internal discussions on the next step of the negotiations must be seen as a positive move and is something the UK government has pushing for.

3. EU lawmakers agree on “Brexit amendment” to its Emission Trading System.
EU Lawmakers agreed to void all permits to pollute that are issued by a country leaving the European bloc from January 2018 onwards. This has been labelled making the ETS “Brexit-proof” as it would prevent the potential for a messy negotiation to cause a massive sell-off of the permits to pollute should the UK find itself outside of the scheme.

4. EU Agencies: Despite what Chris Grayling says, the Government’s mind is still not made up 
In his answer to  a written parliamentary question concerning the implications of Brexit and the UK’s involvement in the European Aviation Safety Agency and the European Union Railway Agency, Lord Callanan said that “The Government is considering carefully all the potential implications arising from the UK’s exit from the EU, including the implications for continued or discontinued participation in Commission Agencies such as the European Aviation Safety Agency and the EU Agency for Railways.”. This is a departure from the answer given by Chris Grayling last weekend on the Andrew Marr show where he expressed his expectation that the UK, by the end of the negotiations, would remain in the European Aviation Safety Agency.

5. The view from Berlin: Germans see Brexit as a punchline
Brexit is lacking traction as a political issue in Germany as Germans see Brexit as more of a punchline than a negotiation. Politico reports that far from being a dominant political issue, Germans find themselves bemused at the level of British interest in EU rules and EU matters. Germany and Angela Merkel’s lock-step position with France over Brexit enjoys a wide-ranging consensus and is not a controversial position, leaving other political matters to gain more traction than Brexit in Germany.

6. Transport Commissioner visits Ireland to assess Brexit impact
Speaking in Dublin, the Commissioner said that several questions remain over what will happen to hauliers at the border with Northern Ireland and whether Irish exporters will be able to travel through the UK to get to the rest of the EU. The issue of the hundreds of weekly flights between Ireland and Britain is also important, she said. She told Irish representatives that the other 26 member states fully support them and Brexit may be “an opportunity for Ireland to strengthen its links with its European partners”.

7. The view from Paris: Head of Air France-KLM says UK must accept European Court of Justice control
Head of Air France-KLM says that UK must play by the rules and accept European Court of Justice control if they wish to continue operating flights on the continent post-BrexitJean-Marc Janaillac, Chief Executive of Air France-KLM, stated that he remains happy for the UK to remain part of the European Common Aviation Area as long as they are willing to accept the jurisdiction of the ECJ, one of the UK government’s so-called ‘red lines’ in the Brexit negotiations. He said: “we would approve the British airlines flying within Europe as European operators on one condition: if they have the same rights, they should have the same obligations as European carriers”.

8. Process of delivering new transport infrastructure must be streamlined
At the launch of the National Infrastructure Commission’s strategy in Birmingham, Mayor of Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Combined Authority James Palmer said that more needs to be done to improve transport if we are to fend off the challenges of Brexit. “There is a clear need for us rethink the way we go about delivering transport infrastructure in this country. The timescales involved are too long and the processes too cumbersome. Brexit magnifies the importance of us stepping up to the challenge.” He hopes that the new National Infrastructure Assessment will play a significant role in creating the much needed reform.

9. What does the Brexit cliff-edge look like? 
Politico policy reports theorize what the Brexit cliff-edge looks like across 11 policy areas, including customs/ports and aviation. Concerning customs/ports, Politico expects the immediate impact to be customs declarations increasing by 255 million per year, long lines at entry points across the country, and “Just in time” supply chains breaking down. Looking at aviation, the immediate impact is theorized to be an end of the UK’s membership of the European Common Aviation Area which would end all flights from the UK to the EU27. The UK would also no longer be a member of the EU-US Open Skies Agreement which would also end flights to American destinations. Such an impact would force would-be flight passengers to take the ferry or Channel Tunnel to France, dramatically increasing demand and delays on those services.

10. 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
  • 28 November 2017 – UKTiE Annual Forum
  • 14-15 December 2017 – European Council to review progress of negotiations
  • TBC 2018 – UKTiE  & Norton Rose Fulbright Summit: Customs arrangements after Brexit.
  • 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.
  • 30 March 2019 – Britain formally exits the EU, following ratification of Brexit by all other member states and the European Parliament.
  • June 2019 – European Parliament election
Mark Watts
UK transport in Europe (UKTiE)

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