Leaving the EU



The UK’s globally competitive Aerospace, Defence, Security and Space industries are vital to the UK’s national security and economic prosperity. These four sectors deliver well-paid jobs, high-tech exports and sustainable growth right across the country:

The UK has triggered Article 50, meaning the UK is set to leave the EU by 29 March 2019. ADS’ priority is to ensure the UK remains globally competitive and we achieve the best possible outcome for our industries both during and beyond Brexit.

Not reaching a deal with the EU would have significant commercial consequences for UK industry, raising the costs of doing business, reducing our influence and damaging the UK’s reputation as one of the best places in the world to develop new technology and create high value jobs.

Post-Brexit the opportunity for the UK is to invest in successful sector-based industrial strategies – focusing on new innovation and strengthening UK supply chains – to boost the UK’s global competitiveness and ensure these sectors are best prepared for the global challenges they will face in the years ahead.

We need a relationship with Europe that secures the access to the customers, suppliers, skills, R&D and influence that underpins our sectors’ global competitiveness.

ADS wants to see the UK government secure an ambitious agreement with the EU that includes:

  • Access to, and influence in, the regulatory regime operated by the European Aviation Safety Agency
  • Access to the EU Single Market without burdensome customs administration or rules of origin
  • Access to, and influence in, the collaborative European R&D and space programmes
  • Access to the pool of skilled labour required to maintain the UK’s global competitiveness
  • Transitional arrangements that provide sufficient time for our sectors to adjust to the new trading relationship

Securing these important access rights – which have all been secured by other non-EU member states – must be a priority for the UK government’s negotiations.

Read more about the ADS position on priority areas:

Secure access to and influence in EASA

  • EASA certifies the safety of aircraft products for use and sale. It is also shaping standards for R&D projects, environmental regulations and new markets (e.g. drones).
  • As a member of EASA, the UK benefits from working to one set of regulations when exporting across Europe, and from the ability for EASA to conduct bi-lateral agreements with key markets including the US and Canada.
  • Significant time and cost would be required to rebuild the certification capabilities of the UK CAA. Remaining a member of EASA is a more cost effective and practical solution to maintain safety and competitiveness.
  • The UK should remain a member of EASA and its regulatory framework, retaining influence and access to safety rulemaking.


Secure full access to EU R&D programmes 

  • The ability for UK companies to participate in EU R&D projects gives them a significant advantage in the global marketplace.
  • The opportunity for collaboration, alongside access to funding, expertise and European facilities, ensures UK companies can develop intellectual property and maximise connections to customers and suppliers.
  • Some at-scale R&D is not possible with only national resources, it’s simply too costly.
  • The UK is both a leader and influencer when it comes to EU R&D, successfully shaping the research agenda in line with its own priorities and in a way which benefits UK businesses.
  • The UK should secure access to, and influence in, collaborative EU R&D programmes.


Ensure tariff-free trade and avoid non-tariff barriers

  • The 1980 WTO Plurilateral Agreement in Trade in Civil Aircraft removes tariffs on most aerospace goods – the UK must therefore resolve its WTO status quickly.
  • Customs and border controls could add significant administrative cost and cause delays at UK or EU borders.
  • The UK should secure access to the Single Market without burdensome customs administration or rules of origin, ensuring tariff free trade and avoiding non-tariff barriers.


Secure access to required pool of skilled labour

  • The UK needs to remain attractive and flexible to the best researchers and engineers in order to stay at the leading edge of innovation.
  • Our sectors invest heavily in training in the UK, but still suffer skills shortages and need access to skilled labour to compete globally.
  • From an operational perspective, problems are often solved by mobile teams operating at sites across Europe, including the UK.
  • The UK should secure free, flexible movement for skilled employees.

Align EU with UK & NATO security objectives

  • Post-Brexit, geography and common interests will mean the UK remains close to the EU in relations to security and defence.
  • Given the importance to national security, the UK should seek to maintain close security and defence cooperation with the EU.
  • The UK should maintain membership of the EDA in order to help align EU priorities with UK national security and NATO objectives.


Participation in ESA and EU Space programmes

  • The UK participates in a number of European Space Agency (ESA) and EU Space programmes – such as Galileo and Copernicus – which are already bringing substantial business opportunities to the UK, with significant scope for the UK to win future business.
  • The UK should secure in perpetuity ‘privileged’ rights of access to the ESA and EU Space programmes, particularly the use of Galileo Public Regulated Services.