The European Union and the United Kingdom will continue to negotiate a new trade agreement until at least Sunday, but in case the negotiations fail, the European Commission has already prepared a package of emergency measures. These measures must prevent chaos at the borders.
As of 1 January, the transition period after the Brexit earlier this year will be over and all agreements and rules between the EU and the UK will lapse. This would have a major impact on cross-border traffic.
‘We have a responsibility to be prepared for all possible events’, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said on Thursday about approaching the deadline. In her view, even after an extensive working dinner with British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, positions are still far apart.
If there is no deal and no emergency measures are taken, there will be no air traffic between the UK and the EU after 1 January, no rail traffic through the Channel Tunnel, much less freight and bus services and no fishing in each other’s waters.
In order to prevent this, the European Commission is proposing the following temporary emergency regulations.
If all aviation agreements expire on 1 January, it is important to maintain a basic offer of international flights. In order to do this, the European Commission wants to give temporary permission to UK airlines to “fly over EU territory, land for non-commercial purposes and for international passenger and cargo flights.”
The emergency arrangement would apply for a maximum of 6 months.
This is provided that the UK grants the same rights to EU airlines and that there are strict guarantees of fair competition.
There are also temporary emergency measures in the field of aviation safety and safety certificates issued by EASA supervisor.
Without a deal, there is only freight traffic in the multilateral quota system of the European Conference of Ministers of Transport (ECMT), and that it would be far too little.
That is why British lorries can enter the EU if they comply with European rules on fair competition and social and technical regulations and the UK grants the same rights to EU transport companies.
Here again, these measures may be valid for a period of six months.
Similar conditions apply to bus transport, with special attention to the border area between Ireland and Northern Ireland, where bus passengers may continue to enter and exit.
On 27 November, the European Commission adopted an emergency measure to continue to guarantee rail traffic through the Channel Tunnel. The validity of the permits granted by the ICG Supervisory Commission will expire on 1 January, but will be extended by two to nine months under an emergency regulation.
France and the UK will thus have time to issue their own licences with the loss of the ICG as a supervisor.
Without agreements, British and European fishermen will no longer be allowed to fish in each other’s waters after 1 January, and that would, according to the European Commission, have a huge impact on their incomes and on sustainability.
That is why a framework has been agreed with the British to continue fishing in each other’s waters until the end of 2021, in accordance with environmental regulations.