Brexit & Aviation 112

It has been reported that the British Prime Minister will put his Brexit bill before MPs on Friday, 20 December.   Before the UK General Election (GE), the Withdrawal Agreement Bill (WAB) passed a vote on the floor of the House of Commons (HoC) by 329 votes to 299 votes.  However, the Prime Minister then withdrew the WAB.  Now, with an overall majority in the UK Parliament, the WAB should make progress and pass into UK law before the UK leaves the European Union (EU) on 31 January 2020.

The appointment of the HoC Speaker takes place on Tuesday, 17 December.  The HoC must choose its Speaker after the GE, and this is the first thing it does on the first day it meets after the GE.  Then there’s the State opening of Parliament on is Thursday, 19 December.

EU leaders have expressed hope that the decisive UK GE victory last week will bring more clarity to the UK’s position in coming negotiations.  Meanwhile the EU has changed.  Ursula von der Leyen is in post as the first woman President of the European Commission.  The European Parliament (EP) 16 – 19 December session in Strasbourg has just kicked-off.

I assume that the 73 British MEPs elected will need to give up their seats in the European Parliament (EP).  The current composition (751 MEPs) of the EP continues to apply for as long as the UK is an EU Member State.  A new composition of the EP will apply at the date of the withdrawal of the UK (from 751 to down to 705 MEPs).

The EU Council presidency of held by Finland comes to an end as we end the year.  Next in line is Croatia: January-June 2020 and then Germany: July-December 2020.  Recently the European Commission has said that Europe must unblock Single European Sky (SES) under the leadership of the Croatian and German Presidencies.   This is strongly in the interest of the UK, but the UK will no longer be around the table in 2020.  Making SES work means reduced flying times and using less fuel.  Environmental imperatives.

Back in September this year, the UK Government and UK Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) expressed the view[1] that remaining a member of the EU Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) was a shared goal.  If the new UK Government and EU decide that this cannot be achieved, then much work will need to be undertaken.

On passage of the WAB into UK law, there will then be a transition period to undertake EU-UK negotiations, based on the Revised Political Declaration[1].   This document is very light on aviation matters.  The Government wants negotiations done by the end of 2020 and the deal in force at the start of 2021.  This is exceptionally speedy given the change of political climate and the vagueness of existing commitments.

[1] https://ec.europa.eu/commission/publications/revised-political-declaration_en

[1] CAP1714: The CAA’s guide to Brexit No Deal & Aviation Safety

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