Preposterous isn’t a big enough word to sum up what’s going on in respect of the UK Government’s approach to the UK Parliament. Having entirely messed-up during the special session on Saturday last, the UK Prime Minister (PM) has tried to ask the same question again of the House of Commons (HoC) and been sent packing. Therefore, it stands that the HoC has not approved the Withdrawal Agreement (WA) and has called for the PM to secure an extension under Article 50(3) of the Treaty on European Union until at least 31 January 2020 for the purpose of holding an early General Election (GE) before the end of the extension period. Will this happen? We have yet to see.
In conversation, I find that even amongst those who avidly follow the progress of Brexit there’s an incorrect notion. It’s that the WA represents a deal between the EU and UK that defines their future relationship. That’s not so. The WA can be described as a divorce settlement and thus needs to be binding. That said, the accompanying document, titled Political Declaration (PD), setting out the framework for the future relationship between the EU and the UK is not binding. The PD is essentially a starting point for the next even more complex and difficult negotiation.
Rushing these historic and complex texts through the legislative process is causing concern. There has been more than 3-years of ups and downs and backwards and forwards, but the final legal text has only just been put in front of Members of Parliament. The European Union (Withdrawal Agreement) Bill is not an easy read.
Industry continues to highlight the importance of avoiding a No Deal Brexit, but there’s some relief that the text on regulatory cooperation on aviation safety is positive. The text is vague about close cooperation between the EU’s EASA and the UK’s Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) but at least they are both explicitly mentioned.
Today, high standards of aviation safety are achieved by having common standards and sharing technical expertise and experience. As the two parties separate there’s a considerable need to keep a close eye on new arrangements and any tendency to diverge for political reasons and not technical ones. Cooperation doesn’t just happen ad-hoc. It requires a dedicated effort and active mechanisms to make it work. Confidence building initiatives take time when different means are used to get to the same outcome.