Despite all the discussion of the Withdrawal Agreement this week, let’s not neglect another important document published: the latest European Commission preparedness document, entitled ‘A Contingency Action Plan’, published on Tuesday in Strasbourg.
The UK is still leaving the EU, and we need a Withdrawal Agreement in order for a transition period to come into effect until December 2020 and provide certainty for business. Until this is approved by UK and EU parliaments, No Deal is still a real possibility, and businesses, government and regulators still need to be prepared for this. The Commission’s note is a timely reminder of this.
- This builds on the previous preparedness communication on 19 July, emphasising the potential disruption and the requirement on all sides to engage in mitigation measures.
- It states that the Commission has been studying the measures needed in the event of No Deal, and working with the relevant agencies, including ECHA and EASA.
- It notes that actions by Member States will be necessary, and the Commission is ready to assist them with these (including, for example, state-aid for financial resources to SME preparedness activities).
- It also notes that Member States “should refrain from bilateral discussions and agreements” with the UK, as it is the Commission’s role to coordinate their positions, and that a “collective contingency plan” is the best chance to avoid risking the integrity of the Union and negative effects to citizens and businesses.
- Calls for “a much faster pace” of preparations for Brexit in general and the possibility of No Deal in particular.
- And emphasises that EU contingency measures are temporary, do not replicate membership benefits, are unilateral, compatible with EU law, and bear no responsibility for delays which are the responsibility of appropriate action by relevant stakeholders.
On Air Services:
- The Commission will propose measures (if the UK reciprocates) to ensure UK air carriers can i) fly over EU territory, ii) make technical stops in EU territory, iii) land in the EU and fly back to the UK. This would be the previously mentioned ‘bare-bones agreement’.
On Aviation Security:
- The Commission will propose that air passengers from the UK transiting through EU27 airports will be exempt from a second security screening (the “One Stop Security” system, subject to a vote by Member States).
On Aviation Safety:
- The Commission notes that EASA will be able to issue third-country aviation safety approvals once the UK has become a third country, and proposes measures to ensure “continued validity of such certificates for a limited period of time” (subject to UK reciprocity – though the DfT technical notice has already stated they will recognise EASA approvals for a 2-year period).
- It also speaks of allowing parts & appliances already approved by the CAA to “still be used under certain circumstances”. This suggests it will address the issue where parts approved by the CAA (under EASA’s authority) will become invalid under No Deal, i.e. those which are warehoused for use but not yet attached to aircraft.