UKTiE Brexit ‘news and views’, which provides you with the key headlines in relation to Brexit, Brussels and transport, in the time it takes to drink a cup of coffee. We hope this news, analysis and advice will help you manage your Brexit strategy.

UKTiE Brexit or 360° members can ask for more information if you wish to explore behind the headlines or require some bespoke analysis.

1. Last week MEPs took a tough line ahead of Brexit negotiations. Is the Ukraine model the one to look at?  

A non-binding report voted through the European Parliament’s powerful (in the context of Brexit) Constitutional Affairs Committee on Thursday last week, gives an early indication of the Parliament’s likely stance on Article 50.  Normal left-right divisions vanished and all the mainstream pro-EU parties lined up, describing Brexit as an ‘opportunity to reduce the complexity of the Union.’ It calls for a new way of interacting with countries outside the EU, which ‘should be defined and developed in order to set up a ring of partners around the EU for states who cannot or will not join the Union, but nevertheless want a close relationship with the EU.’ In other words some sort of associate status. It goes on to note ‘that this new type of ‘associate status’ could also be one of the possible outcomes to respect the will of the majority of the citizens of the United Kingdom to leave the EU.” It would be useful to review the draft association agreement between EU and Ukraine which may provide some clues on what the UK Brexit deal might look like. It runs to 2135 pages with significant transport elements, so if you need help analysing the relevant sections our IDA Brexit team of experts can help you navigate the Agreement. Discussions will continue over the coming weeks, with a final decision expected in February. Former MEP Andrew Duff also advocated such an approach last week, providing a good analysis of the pros and cons.

2. Meanwhile transitional deal looks more essential than ever.  

Confirming what I reported in last week’s UKTiE Brexit News & Views, EU negotiator Michel Barnier announced that the Brexit deal would need to be ready by the autumn of 2018, and would only deal with the arrangements for exit. A transitional deal would be necessary because the EU would only start negotiating a new relationship once the UK has left the EU. This of course would have profound implications for UK transport, as previously discussed. Secretary of State for Exiting the EU, David Davis MP,  however dismissed the idea of a transitional deal in a leaked note of a meeting with the City of London Corporation held on 15 November, although he did say if EU asked for one the UK Government would be more in favour, ‘I would be kind’ he said.

3. But access to Single Market ‘unlikely’  

The leaked note also indicated the UK Government believes that ‘in light of the position on immigration and the EU’s inflexible approach to the ‘four freedoms’, it is unlikely that the UK will achieve access.’ However, it stated that if a trade deal such as CETA could be agreed, it would be unlikely to pose a significant problem as “most advantages” would be gained. ‘Rather like the Ukraine Association agreement it would be well worth looking at CETA to see what the arrangements are for transport. It’s just 454 pages (without Annexes), and transport features throughout. Our IDA Brexit team, including David Plunkett, the former Canadian Ambassador to the EU who negotiated the CETA, would be pleased to assist. Of course the new legal challenge may change this. As may another challenge, this time in the Republic of Ireland. See interview with Jo Maugham QC.

4. Brexit not even the EU’s biggest problem 

While Brexit might be dominating all the gossip and time in UK politics, a senior and respected analyst said at an event I attended recently that Brexit was not even in the top two of the EU’s woes, with the migration crisis and the Euro creating more of an existential crisis. Brexit was a headache, but not anything that the EU won’t survive. It is not the EU that has to rearrange its entire political system of governance, civil service and foreign relations – it is the UK.

5. Join us for our exclusive UKTiE Brexit Briefings with key EU figures. 

Our 2017 programme of Chatham House Brexit briefings with Brexit negotiators and the people that advise them is being firmed up. Places are limited. Let us know if you wish to join UKTiE Brexit and secure your place.

6. Don’t forget the deadlines for individual Brexit written representations to EU Institutions are approaching. 

Let us know if you need help drafting your written Brexit submission or need advice on who to send it to.


Mark’s week 

It may be beginning to look a lot like Christmas where you are, but this week here in Brussels Brexit is beginning to look a lot like a CETA or the Ukraine Association Agreement. Would your company organisation back a Canada or Ukraine type Brexit deal? My advice this week is that you need to start preparing an answer to that question. Companies and organisations would be wise to look at these agreements over the holiday to establish whether they provide opportunities or threats, and then provide the negotiators here in Brussels, including your UK MEPs, with a written submission. As outlined above, there appears to be convergence between the UK and the European Parliament at least on the issue of the type of agreement. But where there is less convergence is the need for a transitional deal to provide the time to facilitate such an agreement. That’s vital given CETA took seven years (and Ukraine even longer) and the EU confirmed this week that negotiations may not start until we leave the EU. So it’s pretty self-evident that without a transitional deal parts of the industry will go over the cliff. At this season of good-will let’s hope David Davis is feeling ‘kind.’ 

With the EU recess fast approaching this is our last UKTiE Brexit News and Views of 2016. We’ll be back in January 2017. May I wish all our members and readers a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!   


Mark Watts
UK Transport in Europe 

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