Air traffic and citizens' rights among no-deal Brexit measures approved by EU lawmakers

13 March 2019 12:36

No-deal Brexit contingency plans will temporarily maintain basic air and road traffic with the UK, citizens’ rights protections and legal certainty for ship operators, EU lawmakers decided in Strasbourg today.

The European Parliament approved 12 contingency measures for a no-deal Brexit, in an effort to ensure that the EU has done enough to unilaterally brace itself for this scenario — which the bloc's leaders warn is more likely since yesterday, when UK lawmakers rejected the negotiated withdrawal deal for a second time.

“We’re at the critical point: The risk of no deal has never been higher,” the EU’s chief negotiator Michel Barnier told a full session of the European Parliament this morning. “The EU is ready to face this situation if we have to.”

Today's votes in the assembly mean that the files will be sent to EU governments for final signatures. That means the legislation will likely be ready to enter into force before Brexit day on March 29.


The lawmakers didn’t add any significant amendments to most of the proposals, initially put forward by the European Commission. Most of the measures have passed through the parliament and the Council of the EU — the legislative body for national governments — as urgent procedures.

The exception was the proposal on basic air connectivity, which guarantees continuity of air traffic between the UK and the EU. The proposal was amended a number of times by lawmakers in ways that weakened the commission’s original hardline approach to a no-deal scenario.

The final measure passed today ensures that flights already scheduled into and out of the UK can continue and that the practice of code-sharing flights remains protected.

It also establishes a temporary exemption to EU majority-ownership rules, granting UK-based airlines six months to meet the requirements that will allow them to continue to fly under an EU operating license.

Lawmakers also agreed on the measure for air safety, which allows for a temporary extension of some aviation safety certificates for aeronautical products, and which will allow time to issue the necessary certificates.

Another measure, on basic road transport connectivity, enables UK-licensed trucks and coach and bus operators to continue their services between the UK and EU states, assuming reciprocity.

One of the proposed contingency regulations still to be agreed would make the UK contribute to the EU budget until the end of 2019 in exchange for continued EU funding of British universities, farmers and other beneficiaries. This will be discussed in the parliament early next month.

The proposed measure explains that this is because the UK government would have until April 18 to declare if it wants to accept the conditions of participation in the budget.

National work

The commission put forward a total of 19 legislative proposals to prepare the bloc for Brexit. It could only amend legislation over EU-wide issues, where it has authority — the rest of the preparedness work must be done by individual EU states.

Some of the laws proposed by the commission are “preparedness” measures, which means that they will have to be implemented in case of both Brexit with or without the deal. These include measures on type approval, tariff-rate quotas and relocation of the EU agencies and now have all been agreed. 

The others are contingency measures, which will take effect only in case of a no-deal Brexit. These are unilateral, temporary and limited in scope, and won’t mitigate the overall impact of a disorderly withdrawal.

The EU executive has also issued several technical implementing acts, delegated acts, and decisions that don’t require the approval of the parliament or governments.

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