Brexit & Aviation 101

The implications of the prorogation of the United Kingdom (UK) Parliament and the inevitability of a UK General Election (GE) are difficult to fathom.  Factor in the flexibility with which rules and procedures are being interpreted and the mix is ever more complex.  It’s becoming clear that the hard Brexit deadline of 31st October 2019 isn’t a formula for a restoration of clarity, consistency and stability in the manner UK Government Ministers have been saying.

Let’s remember that a GE was scheduled for May 2022 and the last snap GE in 2017 did nothing to ease the pain of Brexit.  Moving the deck chairs around doesn’t stop the bad-tempered political rows that have become part of the daily news diet.

Although the general public had little interest in the subject until around 2015, the European question has become the defining political issue of our time.  Geography and history make the UK a European nation.  The question is that social, economic and political ties are at a crossroads.  Over the next few weeks British politicians trot off to their respective annual conferences.  All the time the hard Brexit deadline of 31st October 2019 looms in the background.

Meanwhile adjustments are being made with respect of European aviation.  Regulations adopted by the European Union (EU) in early 2019 which were due to come into effect on 29th March 2019 are now being extended so that they don’t expire until 24th October 2020[1].

It’s taken 3-years for the impact of leaving the European Single Market to sink in.  So much of what we do on a day-to-day basis is dependent upon Just-In-Time movements of good backwards and forwards between the UK and the rest of Europe.  The level playing field that has been created within the EU has benefited everyone but may have been taken for granted given its transparent success.

For a while the standards of the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) will continue to apply in the UK[2].  However, the UK will lose its strong influence over the development of the EASA regulatory framework.  In consultations there’s no doubt UK technical experts will continue to offer comments on proposed rule changes.  Such comments will be considered by EASA as they are from any “Third Country”.  That said, the UK will lose its seat at the table when it comes to making major financial and policy decisions that will shape the future European regulatory framework.

My assumption above is that the UK’s membership of EASA is terminated with a No Deal Brexit.  That means all the tasks currently undertaken by EASA will need to be taken up by the UK Civil Aviation Authority (CAA).  To fully understand the implications of this change it’s to do more than a full reversal of what has been achieved since 29 September 2003.  That’s when EASA first took on responsibility for its allocated tasks.  A backward move that has no upside.

[1] https://www.gov.ie/en/news/2df90c-minister-ross-welcomes-aviation-and-transport-brexit-extensions/

[2] https://sites-herbertsmithfreehills.vuturevx.com/20/15504/landing-pages/3107e-brexit-legal-guide-22-aviation.pdf

 

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