No deal fears loom large, as DfT considers EU's offer

 

The Department for Transport is considering proposals from the EU Commission to ensure transport to and from the continent does not shut down in the event of a no deal Brexit.

The EU proposed a 12 months provision of certain air services between the UK and the EU and a 9-month extension to the 'validity of certain aviation safety licences'.

Ministers have ramped up the rhetoric around a no deal exit scenario. Downing Street has told businesses and citizens to immediately prepare for leaving without a deal.

Letters will be sent to 140,000 firms updating them on what they should do while 3,500 troops will be put on standby to help government departments

The Government also announced an allocation of around £2bn to ministries to prepare for no deal. The Government has invested more than £4bn in preparing for Brexit since 2016.

Brexit secretary Steve Barclay said: ‘The Government’s priority remains to secure a deal, but we need to recognise, with 14 weeks to go, that a responsible Government is preparing for the eventuality that we leave without a deal.’

In a statement on 19 December, the the EU Commission said: 'The Commission has today adopted two measures that will avoid full interruption of air traffic between the EU and the UK in the event of no deal.

'These measures will only ensure basic connectivity and in no means replicate the significant advantages of membership of the Single European Sky. This is subject to the UK conferring equivalent rights to EU air carriers, as well as the UK ensuring conditions of fair competition.

  • A proposal for a Regulation to ensure temporarily (for 12 months) the provision of certain air services between the UK and the EU.
  • A proposal for a Regulation to extend temporarily (for 9 months) the validity of certain aviation safety licences.

'The Commission has also adopted a proposal for a Regulation to allow UK operators to temporarily (nine months) carry goods into the EU, provided the UK confers equivalent rights to EU road haulage operators and subject to fair competition conditions.'

In its response, the DfT said: 'The UK stands ready in principle to consider taking reciprocal steps for EU hauliers coming here. We will consider the Commission’s proposals in greater detail over the coming days.'

Transport Secretary Chris Grayling said: 'We need to study the detail, but any steps to ensure UK hauliers can continue carrying goods into the EU in the event of a no deal is good news, as is ensuring flights are maintained between the UK and EU immediately after Brexit.

'Whether for business or leisure, travellers can continue to book with confidence.'

Ministers have yet to decide on contentious plans for a £30,000 minimum earning threshold for new immigrants after Brexit.

Transport Network revealed earlier this year the extent to which the highways and transport sectors rely on EU workers. This makes the prospect of a sharp drop off in EU immigration numbers potentially very damaging for the sector.

Sally Gilson, head of skills campaigns at the Freight Transport Association, said the loss of almost a quarter of a million European workers currently employed in the logistics sector would be 'catastrophic'. 

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