The title of this Government’s Brexit proposals could be called: I’m Sorry I Haven’t A Clue. But that title has been taken by a long-running BBC Radio comedy series. And I do mean long-running. The last series was number 71. If you listen to this clip of “The Uxbridge Dictionary” it might mask the Brexit murk for a minute or two. By the way, Uxbridge is the Parliamentary Constituency of the Prime Minister.
Here’s a point to clarify. I keep seeing references to the global aviation regulator ICAO.
Now, as I have mentioned before, ICAO is the International Civil Aviation Organisation. It’s the organisations 75th birthday this year and that’s good reason to celebrate. It brings together 193 of the world’s States. However, ICAO is not a “regulator”. It does not issue approvals, licences or certificates. It does not have enforcement powers, like a CAA. I was going to say that it does not investigate aviation accidents but, I believe it has in one or two special cases.
A key technical role of ICAO is to set Standards and Recommended Practices. From that the States develop their own framework of legislation that empowers their organisations, sometimes called Agencies or Authorities or Administrations or Directorates to do the regulatory work.
It must be like this given that there’s a great range of different legal systems across the globe. In fact, those who created ICAO recognised this reality from day one and it’s enshrined in the Convention on International Civil Aviation, also known as the Chicago Convention. The Convention is explicit about the complete and exclusive sovereignty of contracting States. Although as I learned last week there’s one or two exceptions to this exclusivity.
The European Union (EU) is recognised as a regional organisation at ICAO. Nevertheless, each European State has, or shares a delegation at ICAO’s HQ in Montreal. When it comes to making policy for international civil aviation the EU Member States work together. Coordination is vital to make an impact inside a multinational and multicultural organisation like ICAO.
Yet, its unclear how Brexit will change this arrangement, or if it will change at all. The opportunity to work together on common interests is always possible. On issues, like climate change it’s highly likely that Europe and the US will have more in common than say; China, India and Russia.
Where difficulties are more likely are when technical standards in Europe and the US differ. Then the possibility of competition to set international standards might present awkward choices.