The European Union has civil aviation agreements with many Countries. In their current form, those international agreements will not apply to the UK when it leaves the EU in a year’s time. Unless otherwise specified, the EU will see the UK as a Third Country after the leaving date. Transition arrangements may happen to maintain a degree of stability. However, post Brexit, the EU cannot bind other Third Countries to respect an agreement it has with one Third Country. Each is a sovereign State with aviation interests of its own.
As an outcome, the legalities and the political reality may not be the same in 2019 but change will take place in the negotiating strength of the EU, UK and other Countries. In other words, pre-Brexit agreements bind parties but post-Brexit there’s much more of a “free for all”. Touting a slogan like: Global Britain, is fine for a domestic audience but cuts little weight in hardnosed negotiations where one party is vulnerable due to its need for continuity.
The implications of Third Country status are already being played out as the News items on the Galileo satellite system are showing. Naturally, EU Member States have privileges with respect to EU funded projects. It’s not surprising that the benefits of membership do not automatically extend to non-members or former members.
As an illustration let’s take one small technical example. For good or ill, there’s a high expectation that our skies are going to see Drones flying around everywhere and anywhere. Well, not exactly since there’s need for a tight regulatory framework and enabling technology to be put in place to ensue that Drones can be exploited safely. This effort must be done so that the results will work throughout the whole of Europe and wider if possible.
Amongst the standards for Drones there’s discussion about E-Identification and Geo-Fencing. Two technical features that could be mandated to ensure that every Drone can be identified, and every Drone can be restricted from going to prohibited places. Those developments are expected to have a significant role for the Galileo satellite system.
The UK being outside of the mainstream, isn’t going to mean exclusion from all the technical discussions but when it comes to hard and fast decisions then that’s a different matter. There will be standards and there will be legislation to make the market work. In cases like this one, rather than taking back control the path the UK is taking is giving up control.