UK Transport News & Views from Olly, no 67

Olly’s EU week for transport

Hello all,

Olly Kaye at the helm today, as my colleague Mark takes a break from News & Views this week. Today I’m giving a little more focus on what’s coming up in the EU on transport as we are about to head into the Austrian Presidency who will guide the Council of the European Union until 2019. Before I start on further news & views, a quick re-cap of what’s on in Brussels right now:

  • The Commission has put forward an action plan to improve security of rail passengers in the EU
  • The Commission has removed all airlines from Indonesia from EU Air Safety List
  • The Parliament MEPs will vote on proposals for drivers’ rest periods, posting of drivers and rules to tackle illegal practices in road transport in the July plenary session
  • The Parliament’s fisheries committee has published its opinion on port reception facilities for the delivery of waste from ships
  • The Council has published its latest views on the outcome of the Parliament’s vote on the proposal on common rules in the field of civil aviation and establishing a EU Aviation Safety Agency

The Austrians’ main task is to complete as much of the mobility packages as possible, but that still leaves room for new deals on aviation and a focus on passenger rights. I go into a little more detail in the news section below based on their official documents, but a delegation of UKTiE members will be meeting Austrian transport attachés later this week to make the case for UK transport and to get the inside track.

The Brexit debate can become all-consuming, but it is good to remember that EU mandarins and politicians are making a point of not-being derailed. This means that even with a hard-Brexit, what is decided in Brussels both up until, and after March 2019, will still impact UK transport. For this reason UKTiE will be holding our annual forum in November to discuss the likely EU impact on transport post-Brexit and what we can do about it, however the dice fall over the next nine months.

1. Austrian Presidency Programme published
The Austrians are aiming to complete as much  as possible the EU’s various mobility packages, as it strives to find solutions together with the European Parliament on posted workers, tachographs, rest periods in the area of land transport. They are also seeking to improve the Commission’s proposals on  infrastructure costs and tolling and how to promote energy-efficient, low-emission mobility. Their focus for rail centres on passenger rights, where consumer groups are pushing hard for national exceptions to be removed, but the Austrians have so far remained silent on how they will deal with this, despite promising to attach ‘great importance’ to passenger rights.

Their focus on air transport is safeguarding competition and completing further third country agreements, but how these new agreements will affect future UK agreements remain to be seen, but, as with any changes now to EU legislation, it is likely that these new rules will still very much be the template for the UK. We’ll update you further after our meetings with the Austrian Presidency this week.

2. UKTiE talks transport in the UK Parliament – July 18th
A reminder that UKTiE members, Lords and MPs will discuss the Government’s recent publication on the Framework for the UK-EU partnership for transport in the House of Lords at a Parliamentary roundtable. This is an opportunity for business to make the case for what we would like to see and how business and government can find a route to can get there in a way that keeps business thriving. The roundtable is hosted by Lord Berkeley – send me an email if you would like more information or would like to attend. UKTiE will be putting together a comparative analysis between the UK government documents and the EU documents, please do join us if you would like access to such an analysis.

3. Brexit ping-pong in the Palace
Last week saw the House of Commons overturn amendments put down by the Lords, and now we are back in the Lords today as they decide what next steps to take – to give the Parliament the power to block any deal through a ‘meaningful vote’, whatever that means, or to allow the Government to take the actions it feels necessary. Generally speaking in the EU, trade agreements with third countries are one of the few areas where the European Parliament does not have co-decision powers with the Commission and Council, although they do now have a veto – the British Government is not the only one to have concerns about what a Parliament might do.

4. 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.
  • 28-29 June 2018- European Council summit.
  • 18 July 2018- UKTiE House of Lords Event ‘The Framework for the UK-EU partnership for transport’.
  • 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.
  • 18-19 October 2018 – European Council summit.
  • November 2018 – UKTiE Forum, Brussels
  • 30 March 2019 – Britain formally exits the EU, following ratification of Brexit by all other member states and the European Parliament.
  • May 2019 – European Parliament election.
  • 31 December 2020 – End of transition period. (TBC)
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