EU exit

The UK Government’s position

The UK Government has been clear that as the UK exits the EU, its aim is to ensure continued transport connectivity in support of successful economic and social ties, and as part of a deep and special future relationship.

On 7 June 2018, the Government published a series of slides on the ‘Framework for the future UK-EU partnership’ for transport, in which it sets out its desire to secure liberal aviation market access arrangements. The slides also reaffirmed the desire, first set out by the Prime Minister in her Mansion House speech in March, to explore the terms of participation in EASA.

The Government is confident of delivering a good deal which achieves this ambition. The UK and EU have a common interest in getting the best outcome – people right across Europe benefit from liberal aviation market access, whether travelling for business or for leisure – and starting from a position of regulatory alignment.

The UK Government does not want or expect a scenario in which the UK leaves the EU without a deal. However, the Government has also publicly said that it has a duty to plan for the unlikely scenario in which no mutually satisfactory deal can be reached.

The CAA’s role in EU exit

Determining the future relationship is a matter for the UK Government in its negotiations with the EU. The CAA welcomes the ambition for aviation – including exploring participation in EASA – set out on 7 June 2018. The CAA understands that the aviation industry and its consumers want as much clarity as possible with respect to the UK’s future relationship with the EU.

This page sets out the work that the CAA is undertaking in relation to EU withdrawal, including the plans we are making for a potential non-negotiated withdrawal from the EU in March 2019.

As a responsible regulator, the CAA is undertaking the following activities in preparation for EU withdrawal.

Supporting the Government in the EU exit process and preparations:

  • Providing technical advice and support to negotiations where requested;
  • Providing legal and policy support in developing legislation (the EU (Withdrawal) Act 2018) to ensure that the statute book continues to function in all scenarios; and
  • Working with the Department for Transport (DfT) to develop and implement Bilateral Air Safety Agreements or similar agreements with the USA, Brazil and Canada to replace those currently in place with the EU for when they are needed.

Preparing and resourcing a contingency plan for the regulation of aviation in the unlikely event of a non-negotiated withdrawal from the EU in March 2019.

CAA support to the UK Government

Providing technical advice

As the UK’s aviation regulator, the CAA provides ongoing advice to the Government on request on technical aviation matters for support during the negotiations.

Preparing for exit

The EU (Withdrawal) Act 2018 will convert, if required, existing EU law into UK law, and preserve existing UK laws which implement EU obligations, ensuring a smooth and orderly exit.

The DfT will be making associated secondary legislation to ensure a functioning statute book, and the CAA is providing legal and policy support for this.

Bilateral Air Safety Agreements

The UK and EU have agreed that, during the Implementation Period, the UK is to be treated as a Member State for the purposes of international agreements for the duration of the implementation period. This includes the EU-level Bilateral Air Safety Agreements with the US, Canada and Brazil.

The DfT and CAA are working with their counterpart national aviation authorities to put in place equivalent agreements for when they are needed.

CAA preparation for a non-negotiated EU exit

The CAA has been clear since the EU referendum that we consider that the most positive outcome for UK consumers and the aviation industry would be one where the UK has continued participation within the EASA system and for existing systems of mutual recognition between the UK and EASA Member States to remain.

The Government has also said it is keen to explore the terms of EASA participation as part of its negotiation with the EU.

Our planning includes a scenario in which the UK Government and CAA take all reasonable steps within their control to reduce disruption to the aviation industry, but the EU does not agree to a mutual recognition arrangement.

The CAA encourages the aviation and aerospace industries, and individuals who rely on EU permissions to operate (to any extent), to consider what actions if any may be required on their part to enable them to continue to operate.  This webpage explains the CAA’s own approach to EU exit preparedness, and does not constitute legal or commercial advice to industry.

Planning assumptions for a non-negotiated exit

To help organisations with their own planning for EU exit, we have listed the assumptions that we used to develop our approach for a potential non-negotiated withdrawal from the EU in March 2019.
These assumptions are not representative of the CAA’s view of the most likely, or desirable, outcome of negotiations and do not reflect Government policy, but allow us as a responsible regulator to prepare for all possible scenarios.  In a non-negotiated outcome at March 2019, we have assumed that:

  • The UK leaves the EU at 11 pm on 29 March 2019.
  • Through the EU (Withdrawal) Act 2018, the UK adopts all European aviation laws at the point of exit.  Changes will be made to ensure those laws are legally operable.
  • The UK continues to mirror EU aviation regulations for at least a two year period.
  • The UK withdraws completely from the EASA system in March 2019, meaning that the CAA will need to make arrangements to fulfil regulatory functions without having EASA as a technical agent and having without having access to EASA and EU-level capabilities.
  • The UK is no longer included in EU-level Bilateral Aviation Safety Agreements.
  • There is no mutual recognition agreement between the EU and the UK for aviation licences, approvals and certificates.
  • UK-issued EASA licences and approvals are no longer recognised in the EU post-EU exit.
  • The EU treats UK airlines as Third Country Operators.
  • All licences issued by the CAA under EU legislation, and all type approval certificates and third country approvals issued by EASAunder EU legislation, will continue to have validity under UK law, if they were effective immediately before exit day.
  • The UK minimises additional requirements for licences, approvals and certificates from EU aviation and aerospace companies providing services and goods in the UK.

Bringing EU regulation into UK law

Under a non-negotiated withdrawal scenario, a number of regulatory processes will need to be brought back within the UK system so that we are able to continue to regulate the UK aviation industry. This means that our preparatory work includes adjusting existing systems so that they could continue to work in exactly the same way as now – but with the UK Government and the CAA fulfilling regulatory functions independently of the EU.

Developing new functions and capabilities

Within this scenario, translating EU aviation law into UK law will require the CAA to take on new functions, some of which are currently delivered by EASA. The CAA has started to implement plans to fulfil these functions should they be needed following the UK’s departure from the EU. As an example, the CAA is creating the capability required for the UK to fulfil State of Design responsibilities independently of EASA should that be needed once the UK leaves the EU.

Air Transport Agreements

The CAA has no direct role in the negotiation of air transport agreements, which govern the rights to fly between two countries. These are formal treaties and are negotiated directly between governments.

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