House of Commons Library

Brexit: how will it affect transport?

Published Monday, June 12, 2017

This Commons Library briefing paper discusses some of the pertinent issues in the four main transport policy areas: aviation, railways, roads and road-based public transport, and maritime. It will be updated and expanded as more information is published and new issues emerge.

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On 23 June 2016 the United Kingdom voted to leave the European Union. The Prime Minister, Theresa May, triggered Article 50 of the Treaty on European Union on 29 March 2017 to begin the process of exit.

The process for withdrawal is likely to take around two years, during which time there will be negotiations about what sort of relationship the UK and the EU will have in the future and how individual policy areas will be affected. Until that process has advanced somewhat it is impossible to say with any certainty what the effects of Brexit on transport policy, industry, services and operations will be.

This paper discusses some of the pertinent issues in the four main transport policy areas: aviation, railways, roads and road-based public transport, and maritime. To date it is probably fair to say that the most media attention has been given to the impact of Brexit on air travel, particularly the low cost market between the UK and the EU27 and how UK-licensed airlines which operate across the EU will be affected by the UK’s possible exit from the European Common Aviation Area. The Department for Transport has indicated that this is a priority for them, along with international freight transport.

Since the vote there have been a number of questions in Parliament about various aspects of transport policy and the impact of Brexit. The responses of Transport Ministers have invariably used a form of words to the effect that: “until we leave, EU law will continue to apply to the UK. The Department will continue to work alongside the Department for Exiting the European Union, which has the responsibility for leading the negotiations to leave the EU, and for the future relationship between the UK and EU”.

More recently they have also added the following: “The Great Repeal Bill will provide a functioning statute book on the day the UK leaves the EU. In addition to repealing the European Communities Act, the Bill will convert EU law into UK law as it stands at the moment before we leave the EU; and create temporary powers to make secondary legislation. The Bill aims to maximise certainty for individuals and businesses as we leave the EU”.

There was a debate on Exiting the EU and Transport on 23 November 2016; the Transport Select Committee in the 2015 Parliament did not take any evidence on this issue.

This paper will be updated and expanded as more information is published and new issues emerge.

For more briefings on Brexit, visit the relevant page on the Parliament website.

If you have a Parliamentary email account you can find a selection of articles and reports about Brexit and transport by following this link.

Commons Briefing papers CBP-7633

Author: Louise Butcher

Topics: Aviation, EU external relations, EU law and treaties, Railways, Roads, Shipping

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