Brexit & aviation: Suggestions by T&E on what is the best scenario for the environment?




Brexit and aviation: What is the best scenario for the environment?

Since the creation of the European Single Aviation Market, the UK and its airlines have greatly benefited for decades from full access to the European market. This access will cease to exist on 29 March 2019 in the absence of an agreement.

Given the current state of Brexit negotiations, the possibility of not reaching a future deal on the aviation relationship would greatly harm the industry, consumers and, particularly, the environment.

While the UK has expressed its desire to retain full access to the European Single Aviation Market for its airlines after Brexit, it has failed to define how it wants to attain this.  As with other areas of the EU single market, full access is conditional upon accepting the whole body of EU law and recognising Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) oversight.
In order to avoid environmental dumping and ensure fair competition, the UK must abide by all current and future regulations on safety and security, state aid and climate protection.

With the aim to ensure complete environmental protection in the aviation sector after Brexit, this report proposes four key recommendations if the UK wishes to retain the same level of access to the European aviation market which it currently enjoys:

1. Upon Brexit the UK must re- join the European Common Aviation Area (ECAA). This will allow British airlines to continue enjoying all freedoms of the air. Also, current and future legislation on the environment, market access, State aid control, safety and consumer rights will be extended to the UK.

2. The UK must remain in the EU aviation Emissions Trading System (ETS). This would ensure a smooth transition and continuity on tackling climate change.

3. EU State aid rules must continue to apply to the UK. This would prevent the UK from having free leeway to invest in airport infrastructure and operators to the detriment of the environment.

4. The UK must become a non-voting, fee paying member of the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA), as this would guarantee adhesion to aviation safety standards and mutual recognition.



The report:

Brexit: What is the best scenario for the environment? 



On the Open Skies agreement, the new T&E report says:

Case Study: EU- US Open Skies: What happens to the UK?

This agreement allows any EU airline to fly to the US and vice versa. Once the UK leaves the EU, without an agreement, its airlines lose all legal rights to fly to the US and vice versa. If the UK joins ECAA, it can join the Open Skies agreement as did Iceland and Norway. The case of Norwegian Airlines shows though that moving from agreement to getting actual permission to land on US territory can drag on for years. Should the UK not want to join ECAA, it has to negotiate a separate bilateral deal with the US. This will not only be time consuming, but could also mean a more restricted access than ECAA membership would off



The report’s section on dealing with aviation carbon emissions:

3. Tackling climate change through the Emission Trading System (ETS)

3.1. Remaining in the ETS

The EU ETS is an essential tool to tackle climate change carbon pricing mechanism. Were the UK to quit this scheme when leaving the EU, its major emitters including airlines would no longer be required to purchase allowances. Though the allowance price is currently low, around €7, the price is expected to increase due to recently agreed reforms. An exemption from this purchasing requirement would amount to a distortion of competition.

The ideal scenario is for the UK to remain in the EU ETS like EFTA (European Free Trade Association) member Norway, though EFTA members cannot influence the ETS’ future design and management.  Remaining within the ETS would allow for a smooth post-Brexit transition. More importantly it would also mean that the EU and the UK would still be on the right trajectory for meeting the decarbonisation targets agreed in the Paris Climate Accord.

3.2. Concluding a linking agreement

Alternatively, the UK could establish its own national emissions trading system and link it to the EU’s through a linking agreement17, similarly to what Switzerland has done. However this linking agreement would need to be negotiated prior to the UK departure from EU ETS, with the beginning of the EU ETS 4th trading period in 2021 perhaps being the appropriate moment. Linking two systems involves potentially long negotiations to reach an agreement and raises concerns regarding environmental integrity.18 This negotiating period would create an unnecessary gap detrimental to the environment, thereby possibly undermining the Paris Agreement.

3.3. Options for a hard Brexit

In the case of a hard Brexit, there are two legal options which the EU can rely on to minimise the negative impact. The EU has already adopted safeguard measures19 for the event the UK leaves the EU ETS. An amendment of the EU ETS Registry Regulation was recently presented by the Commission and agreed by the Council and the Parliament.20 marking and restricting the use of allowances issued by the UK as of 1 January 2018.21 This would prevent British companies from abruptly selling these allowances and consequently further contribute to an oversupply of the market, leading to a fall in the EU allowance price.22 Secondly, the EU could unilaterally retain flights to and from the UK in its ETS, similar to how it addressed flights to and from Switzerland prior to concluding the recent linking agreement. In the Swiss case, this policy option was endorsed by the CJEU. UK operators flying to and from the EU would be required to report to one of the remaining EU Member States. Under this scenario, the UK would lose revenue which it would gain from the auctioning of allowances.23 9 a report by

3.4. Relying on international instruments

The final option is that the UK may only be subject to CORSIA – a global market based measure established by International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) to tackle a portion of aviation emissions. This is the ar inferior to that of the exempted from carbon pricing.24

See full report at:





[If the UK wants to retain its current access (all 9 freedoms of the air) it will have to abide by all EU rules and the rulings of the ECJ.   T&E guess they wont want to do that, so the UK is almost certain to lose access. ]