Brexit, Aviation and the Withdrawal 4

The act of withdrawing from the European Union (EU) has been underway for a week.  Already there’s considerable confusion over the UK’s longer-term relationship with European Member States.   Differences of political opinion are evident over what’s to be discontinued and what not. Hopefully, the next steps are being guided by the Political Declaration (PD) agreed between the EU and the UK in October 2019.

It’s worth noting the reality of the current situation.  The Withdrawal Agreement (WA)[1] is a Treaty[2] which governs the terms of the withdrawal of the UK.  It will continue to apply, even if there’s a Brexit “crash out” at the end of the year.

Going forward in this period of transition isn’t necessarily reversing the past.  That said, the past must be respected.  But you might say: why?  Let’s stride off into the sunny uplands with a blank sheet of paper in our hands.  Unfortunately, that’s like walking into a snowstorm armed with only a tube of toothpaste.  My metaphor is about changing aviation rules, regulations and standards.

One aspect of transport systems is their relative long lives.  Given that investments in aviation are high, most products are designed and produced to be in service for more than a couple of decades.

Another aspect is the need for parts of the aviation system to interoperate safely with other parts.  Landing an aeroplane in Manchester shouldn’t be radically different from landing one in Munich, or Manila for that matter.  Fixing one is the same task in any of those cities.

What I’m saying is both European and British rules, regulations and standards must comply with their international counterparts.  That doesn’t mean these no scope for differences, but it does put some constraints on what can be practically done, especially in a limited time.

The EU and the UK have set out their opening positions for their future relationship on aviation.  For the above reasons and more, I have no doubt that there will be a degree of convergence over the next few months.  The cancellation of laws applied during this period of withdrawal can only happen if something viable is put in their place.

Meanwhile aviation organisations are updating their Brexit public information[3].   That said, words like “termination” are avoided because no one knows what the situation will be in 2021.

[1] The Agreement on the Withdrawal of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland from the European Union and the European Atomic Energy Community.

[2] A treaty is a formal written agreement entered into by actors in international law, namely sovereign states and international organizations.

[3] https://www.easa.europa.eu/brexit

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