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OPINION: Continued EASA membership is vital for UK aerospace

To put it bluntly, whatever the rights and wrongs of Brexit, leaving the European Aviation Safety Agency as well as the EU would be an act of supreme folly for the UK.

As the nation's parliamentary Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy select committee concluded in a report issued on 19 March, there would be no benefit from any "regulatory divergence" from EASA, only cost.

This means that, in order for UK aerospace to maintain its position in the global market, continued membership of the regulator is key.

It can only be associate membership, however, so any influence the nation might exert on the rulemaking process would be negligible. The committee thinks some leverage can be retained, simply by dint of the UK's expertise and reputation, but that seems like wishful thinking.

As the report notes, Brexit will not bring the imposition of barriers or tariffs, thanks to the World Trade Organization's rules on large civil aircraft. But those are regulations that already apply.

Customs procedures should be kept to a minimum, and staff must be able to move freely in and out of ­Europe, the report says.

All of this sounds remarkably like what UK industry already has, minus any ability to shape the rules.

But if a status quo is the desired outcome, then why should the nation subject itself to the pain and uncertainty of Brexit?

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