LONDON: UK’s relations with the bloc and its member countries remains extremely unclear. For international businesses making investment decisions that go far beyond Brexit, this situation is damaging and hard to bear. A transition arrangement for the UK’s departure will be a positive step, once it is signed. But this is a temporary solution it does not solve all the issues that need to be addressed. We must have more clarity on the UK’s long-term relationships, not just for the next 20 months. My business, aviation, is by its very nature global.
Aerospace manufacturers, whose products must meet rigorous safety and certification standards, cannot let political whims drive the crucial issue facing our industry: no certification, no fly. The UK must avoid double certification and double standards. This would best be achieved through continued participation in the EU aviation safety certification agency, EASA. The European Council apparently foresees an “air transport agreement combined with aviation and security agreements” that are somewhat aligned with current conditions.
Hard borders and regulatory divergence risk blocking trade, creating supply chain logjams and causing our business to grind to a halt. These delays will hit our competitiveness and are something that we cannot afford to tolerate. We need the UK to provide clarity on customs and ensure alignment with the EU rules that apply to our sector. Meanwhile, Britain and the EU have insisted the security and defence relationship must continue after Brexit. The UK has much to offer and the two together provide a stronger deterrent. But this needs to be more than words. Real action is needed to cement this co-operation and ensure security for all Europe’s citizens, independent of talks on trade and economic relationships. Britain and the EU nations must adopt a more pragmatic stance on flagship space and defence programmes that seek to enable closer working between militaries. At present the UK faces being left out, which benefits only those who pose security risks to all of us.