Brexit, Aviation and the Withdrawal 11

IMG_0696Spring is beckoning.  The phoney war will have to come to an end soon.  EU-UK negotiations are set to start in the week of 2 March 2020.  There’s every good chance a close and ambitious partnership between the EU and UK can be built.

On civil aviation the UK is seeking an agreement that should: “consider arrangements typically included in EU bilateral aviation agreements”.  This is written as if the Europe has no history of deep and detailed cooperation that has been built over decades.  It’s difficult to image a blank sheet of paper in front of the negotiating teams.

On airspace use, the EU is saying that the UK should have less access to EU airspace but may have more than other third countries, if it applies by specific rules[1].  This does have the potential to take on board the interest of travellers on both sides of the divide.

On safety, the UK is a calling for a Bilateral Aviation Safety Agreement (BASA)[2].  No prospective ambition to remain part of the EU’s Agency, EASA is mentioned.

For the above there’s a paragraph heading titled “Appropriate governance arrangements” but no indication as to what they might be.  With the existing EU-US BASA[3] there’s a Bilateral Oversight Board (BOB) that is responsible for ensuring the effective functioning of the BASA.

I remember supporting that activity.  It does tend to be conducted at a high level with the respective partners.  Then detailed work is delegated to more technical activities under the watchful eye of the BOB.  Now, that kind of working arrangement does not preclude UK Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) technical staff participating in EASA working groups or vice versa.

An EU-UK BASA maybe a new bespoke agreement but it is a distinct break with the past of cooperation.  Europe enacted a process of working together before the time of EU competence in this area.  It was on 11 September 1990, with the signing of the “Arrangements concerning the Development, the Acceptance and the Implementation of Joint Aviation Requirements” (Cyprus Arrangements), by 24 States that the Joint Aviation Authorities (JAA) came formally into being.

A BASA does weaken existing international ties because at its core is the preservation of regulatory control above and beyond joint working.   No longer is the arrangement captured in the phrase “Unus pro omnibus, omnes pro uno”[4].

I’m sure, the EU will respect British sovereignty, and Britain will respect EU Member States sovereignty.  Nice to say but such statements say nothing about common interests of which there are many in aviation.  We don’t yet know to what extent either the EU or the UK will be willing to compromise as a result of detailed negotiations, maybe long into the night.  By the middle of this year a clearer picture will emerge.

[1] https://www.instituteforgovernment.org.uk/explainers/future-relationship-uk-eu-mandates

[2] https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/868874/The_Future_Relationship_with_the_EU.pdf

[3] https://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/EN/TXT/HTML/?uri=OJ:JOL_2011_291_R_0001_01&from=EN

[4] Latin phrase that means “One for all, all for one” in English.

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