The European Commission has today put forward a set of targeted contingency measures ensuring basic reciprocal air and road connectivity between the EU and the UK.
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The aim of these contingency measures is to cater for the period during which there is no agreement in place. While the Commission stated it will continue to do its utmost to reach a mutually beneficial agreement with the UK but says there is now significant uncertainty whether a deal will be in place on 1st January 2021. If no agreement enters into application, they will end after a fixed period.
President von der Leyen said: “Negotiations are still ongoing. However, given that the end of the transition is very near, there is no guarantee that if and when an agreement is found, it can enter into force on time. Our responsibility is to be prepared for all eventualities, including not having a deal in place with the UK on 1st January 2021. That is why we are coming forward with these measures today.”
The Commission has consistently called on all stakeholders in all sectors to prepare for all possible scenarios on 1 January 2021. While a “no-deal” scenario will cause disruptions in many areas, some sectors would be disproportionately affected due to a lack of appropriate fall-back solutions and because in some sectors, stakeholders cannot themselves take mitigating measures.
The Commission is therefore putting forward today four contingency measures to mitigate some of the significant disruptions that will occur on 1st January in case a deal with the UK is not yet in place:
Basic air connectivity: A proposal for a Regulation to ensure the provision of certain air services between the UK and the EU for 6 months, provided the UK ensures the same.
Aviation safety: A proposal for a Regulation ensuring that various safety certificates for products can continue to be used in EU aircraft without disruption, thereby avoiding the grounding of EU aircraft.
Basic road connectivity: A proposal for a Regulation covering basic connectivity with regard to both road freight, and road passenger transport for 6 months, provided the UK assures the same to EU hauliers.
Fisheries: A proposal for a Regulation to create the appropriate legal framework until 31 December 2021, or until a fisheries agreement with the UK has been concluded – whichever date is earlier – for continued reciprocal access by EU and UK vessels to each other's waters after 31 December 2020. In order to guarantee the sustainability of fisheries and in light of the importance of fisheries for the economic livelihood of many communities, it is necessary to facilitate the procedures of authorisation of fishing vessels.
The four outlined measures that would take effect if no agreement is in place on 1st January 2021 include proposals to ensure the provision of air services for six months and to ensure safety certificates for products can continue to be used in EU aircraft to avoid flight disruption.
ADS Chief Executive Paul Everitt said: “The contingency plans set out by the EU today are bare bones arrangements to ensure continuity of air services from January 1st in the event of no Brexit deal being agreed.
“However, they would leave major issues still to resolve around cross-border trade and aviation safety regulation arrangements for UK manufacturers, who face new costs, delays and uncertainty if there is no deal.
“Without a deal on the overall relationship between the UK and EU, a formal arrangement must be urgently agreed between aviation safety regulators to cut red tape, ensure market access and protect our long-term competitiveness.”
Director General of ACI EUROPE Olivier Jankovec and Chief Executive of the Airport Operators Association Karen Dee said in a joint statement: “The certainty provided by the European Commission’s proposals on aviation connectivity is welcome and we urge the UK Government to publish their contingency measures to provide the industry with confidence for a potential no-deal scenario.”
“However, it is exceptionally concerning that UK citizens could be subject to a ban on non-essential travel to EU member states just as the UK’s test-and-release system comes into force. This would further damage a sector battling the devastating impacts of the pandemic and hold back the wider economic recovery.”
“The UK Government, EU and EU member states must work together to ensure that safe travel can continue and that our vital aviation sector can start to recover from the brutal impacts of COVID-19.”