More than 2-years on the clock but here it is in print. The long-awaited UK Government White Paper has been released. The UK Government’s regulatory vision includes: “participation by the UK in those EU agencies that provide authorisations for goods in highly regulated sectors – namely the European Chemicals Agency, the European Aviation Safety Agency, and the European Medicines Agency – accepting the rules of these agencies and contributing to their costs, under new arrangements that recognise the UK will not be a Member State”.
Later, there’s more detail where the document says; The UK would seek: “a. for EASA, becoming a third country member via the established route under Article 66 of the EASA basic regulation, as Switzerland has.”
Under the exiting Article 66, EASA is open to the participation of European third countries. This provision becomes Article 129 in the new Basic Regulation. Therefore, EASA can establish working arrangements with the competent authority (UK CAA) of a European third country (UK).
In addition, the new Article 129 refers to the new Article 90 paragraph 2 which says: Those working arrangements shall not create legal obligations incumbent on the Union and its Member States. That might be problematic considering the proposed mechanisms for resolving disputes further on in the White Paper.
The wish to be a part of EASA is repeated further on, as “the UK will seek participation in EASA. In addition to ensuring that manufacturers should only need to undergo one series of tests in either market, this would also support collective work on aviation safety, reducing regulatory barriers for businesses and ensuring continued high standards for safety across Europe.”
Then there’s a part about the ways and means: “through a Governing Body at leader and ministerial level; through a Joint Committee, including sub-committees where relevant, at a technical level; through formal consultation between experts on regulatory issues and legislative changes; and through exchanges between the UK Parliament and the European Parliament.”
Finally: “The nature and structure of the UK’s participation will vary depending on the EU body or agency in question. In some cases, there may be an appropriate precedent for third country involvement, as in the case of Switzerland’s participation in the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA)”.
Twice the relationship Switzerland has with the EU is referred to as a preferred model. This does have a logic to it given that both Switzerland and UK have aeronautical manufacturing industry. It is my understanding that the Swiss have more than a simple working arrangement.
A new “Joint Committee” is the proposed mechanisms for resolving disputes. Again, it has a logic to it in that there will need to be an EU-UK forum for discussions that do not concern other Member States. That said, it would seem to be a means to avoid the direct applicability of any ECJ rulings.
That might be problematic considering the binding nature they would have on one side of the table but not on the other. There’s a challenge for enforcement where the two sides disagree.
The UK Government White Paper does not propose a system of mutual recognition for aviation safety regulation. It continues with common European rules in the field of civil aviation. This capitalises on the significant investment the UK made in helping to build the European system, but it does come with issues yet to be addressed.