GBTA Calls on EU and UK Leaders to Agree on Outstanding Issues in the Withdrawal Agreement
Progress in the Brexit negotiations since the June 2018 European Council Summit has been slow by every measure. The UK and EU negotiating teams have met in Brussels since mid-August in the hope of finalizing the outstanding issues in the Withdrawal Agreement preparing the exit of the UK from the EU. Despite these efforts, they have reached the long-earmarked deadline of the October European Council Summit without evidence of clear progress on some of the key remaining issues relating to the Withdrawal Agreement, such as Northern Ireland.
Even despite positive talks over the weekend, political considerations have brought us back to square one.
In this context, ahead of the European leaders’ Summit taking place on 17-18 October, GBTA stresses once again that securing the Withdrawal Agreement and transition remains essential for the business travel industry. The lack of progress in negotiations puts into question the feasibility of guaranteeing certainty for businesses with an effective, predictable transition period as of March 2019. Letting the UK leave the EU without a deal would lead to brutal changes to the current trading, economic and social environments causing serious consequences on business travelers themselves, as citizens and as business representatives.
Although GBTA welcomes the EU and the UK’s increased activities on preparing stakeholders for every outcome including a “no deal”, with publications of many technical notices (UK and EU), the priority remains to not reach that point. We appreciate the fact that aviation is one of the few areas in which the European Commission and the UK Government has been forthcoming with their contingency planning. The UK has in fact committed to unilaterally grant permits to allow EU airlines to continue providing their services in the UK. We can only hope that the EU-27 will agree to reciprocate these permits for UK airlines even in the case of a no deal.
While Brexit contingency planning for the aviation sector is relatively advanced, if not properly managed, risks still exist that would undermine many key principles critical to the business travel industry. GBTA has been continuously defending the need for proper connectivity, robust competition and high standards for safety and security measures for travelers as well.
That is why GBTA calls on the EU and the UK to harness the general momentum to conclude the Withdrawal Agreement, including the vital transition period, by mid-November at the latest. This will ensure the EU-27, the European Parliament and the UK Parliament have sufficient time to adopt the provisions of the agreement. GBTA also looks forward to EU and UK negotiators initiating discussions on the framework for the future trading relationship between the EU and the UK, especially when it comes to future aviation arrangements.
Finally, GBTA looks forward to meeting with key EU decision makers again this week to discuss Brexit and its impact on the business travel sector at this critical juncture.