Flying, Democracy and Safety 10.

The merry-go-around of talks between Brussels and London has been turning for months. We don’t know if major compromises are just around the corner. Measured on any scale, the time left to do something serious is mighty short. One thing I did agreed with a Conservative acquaintance this week is that there’s an incredible air of compliancy coming from the whole of Westminster. It’s as if everyone knows that really big changes are coming but no one much wants to talk about it. Sweeping discussion about the European Union (EU) under the carpet isn’t going to help anyone.

Europe’s aerospace industry is keen to see an agreement. In letters sent this month, they have urged leaders on both sides to reach an agreement before the end of the transition period. Letters to both Michel Barnier and David Frost state the need to avoid permanently damaging the already hard-hit sector. They call for, in case of a Brexit No-Deal, to apply temporary measures to protect air transport, airworthiness certificates, road haulage and the movement of workers.

Next year, if nothing changes then UK Pilots’ Licences will not continue to be recognised in the EU for the purposes of flying EU Member State registered aircraft[1]. Also, UK Engineers’ Licences will not continue to be recognised in the EU for the purposes of releasing EU Member State registered aircraft into service. These changes are highly significant for people working in the aviation industry.

The UK becomes a “third country” from an EU perspective. Then the references in EU legislation to “third countries” applies to the UK, much like they do to Albania, Morocco or Turkey.

UK Conservative Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher talked proudly of the achievement of bringing down barriers to trade in Europe in 1988. Now, it’s with embarrassment that the Conservative Party is putting barriers back up.  It just goes to show that we can’t assume the inevitability of progress and that we should never take it for granted. I fear that’s what a lot of aviation industry commentators and spokespersons on Brexit did over the last 4-years.

This week, there’s more evidence that the COVID-19 Coronavirus leaves UK companies unprepared for a No-Deal Brexit at the end of the year[2]. It’s in-fact feeling like the UK is going “out of control” rather than “taking back control”.  What has been an abstract concept is becoming reality.   

In more aviation News this week, EASA and EUROCONTROL have set up a Technical and Coordination Office at EUROCONTROL’s headquarters in Brussels[3]. This will help the two European aviation organisations work better together as much of their work becomes more closely tied as we move ahead.


[1] https://www.nortonrosefulbright.com/en/knowledge/publications/0d25cd51/aviation-if-there-is-a-no-deal

[2] https://www.instituteforgovernment.org.uk/publications/preparing-brexit-scale-task

[3]  https://www.easa.europa.eu/newsroom-and-events/press-releases/new-joint-unit-cements-cooperation-between-easa-and-eurocontrol

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