The “Draft Agreement on the withdrawal of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland from the European Union and the European Atomic Energy Community,” dated 14 November 2018 is now published.
Aviation gets one mention in the draft agreement “International Civil Aviation Organisation standards related to biometric identification.” In relation to Agencies, such as EASA the draft agreement says: “The institutions, bodies, offices and agencies of the Union shall continue to be competent for administrative procedures which were initiated before the end of the transition period …”.
So, it’s business as usual until the end of the proposed transition period. Naturally, that depends upon the draft agreement being passed into law. In fact, there are three options that are the most likely. One: enact this withdrawal agreement, two: reject the agreement and abandon Brexit or three: reject the agreement and crash out.
The first two options are practical and viable but the third is an utter catastrophe for all parties. There are just two ways to prevent disruption and to provide legal certainty to air transport and aerospace, at least for the short-term.
The hard fought, detailed, lengthy and binding Withdrawal Agreement only addresses the next few years. To accompany the agreement there is a political declaration on future EU-UK relations. In that document there is a high-level commitment to regulatory cooperation. There is a wish for a: Comprehensive Air Transport Agreement, covering market access and investment, aviation safety and security, Air Traffic Management and provisions to ensure open and fair competition.
Unfortunately, of all the debate and amassed documentation there isn’t much more than that simple statement. In other words, there’s some indication of the direction of travel but nothing on what that might that mean for the next decade. Today, the best deal remains the one the UK has as an EU Member State.
It’s true, that the EU-UK political declaration may still be expanded in the next few days. The political declaration could grow to 20 pages but that hangs in the balance. Contrast that with the over 500 pages of the Withdrawal Argreement. It seems odd that it has taken well over 2-years to get to this point.
In parallel, the European Commission is working with its Agencies. EASA is processing applications from UK organisations in preparation for the time when the UK will not be a Member State. In addition, it’s doing preparations for the worst-case scenario – No Deal
Clearly, based on the domestic political reaction, there is no guarantee what-so-ever the UK will ratify the Withdrawal Agreement by 29 March 2019. Parliament remains divided. Only a committed gambler would predict which way events will turn next.