On the road to the Brexit many questions remain unanswered. I’m writing this article responding to several assertions that I’ve seen made in the social media world. On aviation, here I’d like to add my perspective given that the subject is not straightforward or simple.
The European Aviation Safety Agency, EASA has a membership that extends beyond the EU Member States. International cooperation has been a key activity of the European Commission and EASA since its establishment. This is quite rational and reasonable given that civil aviation is one of the most international businesses in the world. One role EASA has is to promote European and worldwide standards. Its long been recognised that regulatory fragmentation has a detrimental impact on all aspect of civil aviation, including safety.
The EU has written agreements with many Countries. There are working arrangement, bilateral agreements, memorandums of understanding and examples of technical cooperation. Four non-EU European States are EASA Member States. If a Country is not an EASA Member States it is called a “Third Country”. This term is significant because it’s used extensively in existing European aviation legislation.
In 2006, Switzerland become a member of the EASA. It was the fourth non-EU country to adopt EU aviation safety legislation after Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein. These four non-EU countries are represented in the Agency’s Management Board and their nationals are eligible to work for the Agency in Cologne.
Reports suggest that the door to EASA membership is open to the UK. This proposal of Agency membership is greatly favoured by industry bodies and many of the UK’s international partners. The benefits are notable, and it does provide for a degree of continuity for an industry where long-term planning is essential. The traveling public would benefit from that continuity too.
An integrated aviation safety system in Europe isn’t just an abstract concept, it’s a reality. We learn from each other’s experiences and that learning is fed directly into day-to-day aircraft operations. Its not hyperbole to say that Europe is the most advanced aviation region in the world.
The UK’s history is one where we have made immensely significant contributions to the development of aviation safety regulation in Europe. In my view the benefits of continuing along this road outweigh, by a huge margin any speculative benefits of regulatory divergence.
Over the next year, negotiations will address the detailed agreement to describe the way forward for UK-EU civil aviation. Building on our positive achievements would seem to be the wisest and safest course of action.