UK Transport and Brexit News & Views No. 44

Over the last few months, UKTiE has been campaigning to ensure the best possible Brexit deal for transport. While these negotiations are reaching a critical point with the upcoming December European Council meeting, over the next two weeks UKTiE will be looking to the future of European transport. On the 28th of November, we are hosting our 7th Annual UKTiE Forum in the European Parliament. There could not be a more opportune time to be discussing the future of European transport with the announcement of the European Commission’s Mobility Package and with increasing emphasis on the decarbonisation and digitalisation agendas of the sector.

Despite a broad consensus on where the transport sector is heading, the sector remains in discussion over how we get there and the pace of change. With the chosen theme of ‘Clean, connected and competitive: How to modernize Europe’s transport system’ our intention is to host a constructive discussion on the future of European transport, across all transport modes, with leading EU lawmakers, in order to find a clear path forward for the sector.

It goes without saying that Brexit should not be a reason to simply hit pause on transport developments as planning must begin to prepare the sector for the great opportunities and challenges that are just around the corner. Indeed, whatever the outcome of the Brexit negotiations the UK transport operators will continue to comply with EU transport regulations for years to come, be they operating on the continent, or in the UK. That is why we are meeting next week to see what we can do to forge a consensus on how we, as a sector, should prepare for the future.

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

1. One week until UKTiE’s 7th Annual Forum
UKTiE’s Annual Forum will take place next week on November 28th in the European Parliament. The theme for the Forum is “Clean, connected and competitive – how to modernise Europe’s transport system”. The three sessions will discuss 1) Decarbonising road, rail, maritime and air transport, 2) Digitalisation of road, rail, maritime and air transport, and 3) Reforms to keep road, rail, maritime and air transport competitive. Brexit or no Brexit, planned EU regulations are still likely to apply to you in some form.

Speakers will include: Jacqueline Foster MEP, Conservative Transport Spokesperson; Lucy Anderson MEP, Labour Transport Spokesman; Tom Vöge , Policy Analyst, International Transport Forum; Isabelle Ryckbost, Secretary General, European Sea Ports Organisation; Thomas Reynaert, Managing Director, Airlines for Europe; Isabelle Maitre, Head of Brussels Office, Fédération Nationale des Transports Routiers; Laura Wright, Head of International Policy, Rail Delivery Group; Mark Watts, Coordinator, UK Transport in Europe; Richard Christian, Head of Policy and Communications, Port of Dover; and David Kerr, Transport Coordinator, Permanent Representation of Malta to the EU.
A few spaces are still available – register here

2. Barnier sees CETA model as only realistic deal for the UK, dashing hopes of a bespoke deal
Politico report that London’s insistence on quitting the single market and customs union means that a basic EU-Canada-style deal is the only option that Brussels sees for a Post-Brexit trade deal with the UK. This would prove tricky for the UK to accept given that Theresa May has already acknowledged that the CETA arrangement is greatly inferior to Britain’s current position in the EU’s single market. In framework documents seen by Politico, the UK’s demands for “regulatory autonomy” as well as its failure to obey European Court of Justice rulings mean it is “not compatible” as a partner within the EU framework, thus justifying a limited access to the Single Market. Contact us if you want to learn more about what a CETA style deal would mean for your business.

3. 313 separate programs underway across the UK government to prepare for Brexit
In a study that reveals the extent to which Britain’s divorce from the European Union is taking up civil service resources, it was found that the U.K. government is working on 313 separate programs across all departments to prepare the country for Brexit. Bloomberg reports that the “report is the most detailed assessment yet of the scale of the challenge the government faces in preparing Britain for Brexit as the clock ticks down toward its scheduled departure day in March 2019”. As shown in the study, the departments with the most Brexit-preparation work streams are the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy, Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs and the Department of Health. The Department for Transport, finds itself with the 5th highest number of programs.

4. Home Office Brexit preparations criticized by MPs
The Commons home affairs select committee has said that the first day after Brexit will be marked by miles of lorry queues in Kent and gridlock in Northern Ireland unless the government beefs up its customs preparations at the UK’s borders. In the strongest rebuke yet of the government’s Brexit preparations, MPs on the committee said there could be disruption to post-Brexit customs operations if urgent steps are not taken to draw up contingency plans and increase staffing and infrastructure. The committee criticized the Home Office’s plan to recruit an extra 300 border staff by March 2019, in addition to 5,000 extra HMRC staff, as being “completely unconvincing” – especially in the event of a “cliff edge” hard Brexit. However, the committee also welcomes one of the proposed solutions put forward by the government with the suggested the expansion of its “trusted trader” scheme, which reduces the need for document checks at the border, especially in Northern Ireland.

5. The view from Berlin: Collapse of the coalition talks leaves Merkel vulnerable and Brexit more uncertain
The collapse of negotiations for a new government in Germany, due to FDP leader Christian Lindner walking away, has thrown German politics into disarray with the prospect of a new election now more likely than the agreement of the so-called ‘Jamaica Coalition’ or a resumption of the Grand Coalition with SPD. What impact will this have on Brexit? UKTiE has heard that opinion from the UK is that the coalition negotiations were behind the tantalizingly slow progress in the Brexit negotiations as Merkel was more concerned with the home front as she was with Brexit. This new development will serve to further complicate things for Merkel on the political front in Germany and will not reassure those who hoped that the conclusion of the coalition talks and the formation of a new German government could have put the Brexit negotiations into a higher gear. With the prospect of a new election, meaning months without a new government and the vulnerable position this now puts Merkel in, we may not see the injection of urgency that was hoped for by many in the UK. Are you concerned with what this means for the Brexit negotiations? Contact us if you would like to know what insights UKTiE has been hearing about the  political realities surrounding the negotiations.

6. The view from Paris: Increasing levels of concern from European businesses
Les Echos reports that an increasing number of European businesses are becoming significantly worried with the pace of the Brexit negotiations. A group of 57 multinational companies have come together to raise the alarm and have declared that they need more clarity over the next three months in order to avoid any significant impact on their investment decisions. This group, representing companies like Bosch, Rolls-Royce and Nestle, are calling for increased visibility on the progress of the negotiations and would like to see a status-quo transition period of two to three years which would provide enough time to adequately negotiate the future relationship between the UK and the EU. The businesses have felt the need to weigh in on the negotiations as they have seen a worrying trend of acceptance for a ‘Hard Brexit’, something they say would have significant consequences on employment and investment. Are you concerned about the threat of a Hard Brexit? Contact us to find out what you can do about pushing for a transition deal.

7. UKTiE Supported by IDA Group
UKTiE’s work is supported by IDA Group. IDA Group is a highly specialized consultancy for governmental affairs, reputation management, trade and funding. They share the belief in effective dialogue built upon trust and mutual understanding. Their diverse team of experts includes seasoned diplomats, politicians, journalists, lawyers and designers, supported by a global network of trusted partners, can help create measurable impact for your business. You will find more information on IDA Group and what services they can provide you with here.

8. MPs told that a No Deal Brexit could be catastrophic for the British car industry 
Executives from the car industry gave evidence to the Business Select Committee on the impact of Brexit on the car industry. During the session, MPs were told that the UK leaving the EU without a deal on certifying vehicles for use in other countries would be disastrous for the UK car industry. Under the current framework, cars that are certified by British regulators can be used in other EU states under reciprocal arrangements. As the Telegraph reports, “if the UK were to leave without a deal that continues this arrangement it could mean stopping production at UK car plants until a new certifying authority is found so vehicles can be sold abroad”. Patrick Keating, government affairs manager for Honda, told MPs that “Early clarity is a requirement. If UK certification was no longer valid or not accepted we would need to bridge that gap” further adding his thoughts on the customs outlook as he “warned about the risk of customs delays, saying 2m components a day arrive at its UK plants on 350 trucks. The company also operates “just in time” manufacturing and holds only one hour’s supply of components from the EU on its production lines, meaning that if shipments were held up at ports work would grind to a halt”. Are you also concerned about the prospects of your business or sector? Contact us to find out more about what various forms of Brexit would mean for you.

9. The view from The Hague: Dutch parliament warns government to start making serious contingency plans for a “no deal” Brexit
In a parliamentary report, senior Dutch MPs have warned the Dutch government that increased nervousness over stalled negotiations leading to the UK crashing out of the EU in 2019 has led them to say that the “unthinkable” is now possible and that the government must start making serious contingency plans. The report also called on Dutch industries to begin preparing for the fallout that would stem from a ‘No Deal’ scenario. Are you preparing for a ‘No-Deal Brexit’? Contact us to find out what you need to be preparing for.

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.
  • 14-22 November 2017 – Internal preparatory discussions among EU27 for future EU-UK relationship.
  • 28 November 2017 – UKTiE Annual Forum- The Future of European Transport.
  • 6-12 December 2017 – European Council conclusions/guidelines to be finalised.
  • 14-15 December 2017 – European Council meeting 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
Co-ordinator
UK transport in Europe (UKTiE)
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