Many questions to be answered on future UK-EU transport connectivity
21 May 2019
The EU Internal Market Sub-Committee publishes its report on the implications of Brexit for road, rail and maritime transport.
Transport links are a fundamental component of the trading relationship between the UK and the EU, and have an important social function by enabling the mobility of citizens. The implications of Brexit for different transport modes vary depending on the degree of integration of UK networks with the EU. This report examines what will be needed to maintain connectivity in the road, rail and maritime sectors under a new UK-EU relationship, whatever form this may take.
- UK hauliers currently rely on the EU’s Community Licence system to carry goods between the UK and the EU. The published positions of the UK Government and the EU suggest that the continuation of this system is not a likely outcome.
Bus and coach transport
- Bus and coach transport provides consumers with a low-cost option for international travel, and an agreement to maintain UK-EU services would have clear reciprocal benefits for both markets.
- The inconvenience and additional costs of International Driving Permits and Green Cards should not be underestimated. We find the present requirement for UK drivers to visit a Post Office to obtain an International Driving Permit unsatisfactory. The Government should improve accessibility, including the addition of an online option.
- If the EU retains its influence on international vehicle standards, the UK will have a continuing interest in its position, which will be more difficult to influence after Brexit. There may however be opportunities, for example, in areas relating to newer technologies, for the UK to take a leading role in international standard-setting.
- The Government intends to conclude bilateral agreements with some EU countries to maintain rail services through the Channel Tunnel and the Dublin-Belfast Enterprise. While this is the most urgent priority, a more far-reaching set of bilateral agreements would provide greater certainty for long-distance freight services and support the future expansion of UK international freight and passenger services.
- Maritime transport is generally liberalised and underpinned by international law. Post-Brexit, UK and EU ship operators will in most respects be able to access each other’s ports as at present.
- The Government should seek wide-ranging, deep cooperation arrangements with the European Maritime Safety Authority (EMSA), including in the area of response to sea pollution.
Northern Ireland–Ireland road and rail transport
- The island of Ireland’s distinct social and economic ties place unique demands on its future transport arrangements. These conditions may not be best-served by broader negotiations on UK-EU transport arrangements. A solution may be found in an integrated bilateral approach to arrangements for passenger transport by rail and road.
Chairman of the EU Internal Market Sub-Committee, Lord Whitty, said:
"Whatever the nature of the future UK-EU relationship, maintaining surface transport links will be vital.
"The UK's interests and priorities vary between transport modes. Road transport, for example, is heavily regulated at the EU level whereas the maritime sector is largely underpinned by international law. On the rail side, the UK has limited physical network links with the EU but a strong interest in the EU’s rail manufacturing market. This leaves many questions still to be answered."
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