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EU outlines its approach to post-Brexit UK partnership

EU policymakers have issued guidelines to enable negotiation on a future relationship with the UK after Brexit, including details of the likely impact on aviation.

The European Council says that the EU intends to have “as close as possible a partnership” with the UK in future. But it notes that “repeatedly stated positions of the UK” – namely a plan to exit the EU single market and customs union after Brexit – will “limit the depth of such a future partnership”.

This will “inevitably lead to frictions in trade” and have “negative economic consequences, in particular in the UK,” the council predicts.

For a future relationship, the council says it will be “seeking to maintain zero tariffs and no quantitative restrictions” for goods trade, and to establish an “appropriate customs co-operation”.

In order to “ensure continued connectivity” between the UK and EU, the council foresees an “air transport agreement combined with aviation safety and security agreements” alongside arrangements for other transport modes.

However, the council indicates these agreements must be closely aligned with current conditions as any future partnership must ensure a “strong level playing field in highly competitive sectors”.

UK companies and other entities should continue to have access to EU research and development programmes – such as Clean Sky and the Single European Sky air traffic management modernisation effort – under “relevant conditions for the participation of third countries”.

The guidelines were welcomed by UK aerospace trade association ADS because the EU’s approach “opens the door for continued UK membership of and participation in key EU regulatory agencies, such as the European Aviation Safety Agency”.

Earlier this month, UK Prime Minister Theresa May proposed that the country will seek continued membership of EASA, and other bodies, after Brexit.

ADS chief executive Paul Everitt states: “It is vital for both passengers and industry that there is no disruption to the existing EASA regulatory regime in the UK.”

He says the guidelines “clear the way for a comprehensive agreement to be reached that delivers the close partnership we need with the EU”.

However, he called for “further clarity on future customs arrangements” and said negotiators must ensure that “customs or regulatory barriers affecting trade at our borders are avoided”.

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