Documents considered by the Committee on 6 March 2019 Contents

6Commission Brexit preparedness: aviation safety

Committee’s assessment

Politically important

Committee’s decision

Not cleared from scrutiny; further information requested

Document details

Proposal for a Regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council on certain aspects of aviation safety with regard to the withdrawal of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland from the Union

Legal base

Article 100(2) TFEU; ordinary legislative procedure; QMV



Document Number

(40305), 15795/18 + ADD 1, COM(18) 894

Summary and Committee’s conclusions

6.1The proposal under scrutiny is a unilateral Union measure aimed at mitigating the effects of the UK’s withdrawal from the EU on the validity of certificates and licences issued by the UK under Regulation (EU) 2018/1139 (on common rules in the field of civil aviation and establishing the European Union Aviation Safety Agency).29

6.2The Commission explains that in the area of aviation safety, the effects of the UK’s withdrawal from the EU on certificates and licences issued by the UK can mostly be remedied by stakeholders taking various corrective measures, for example, switching to the civil aviation authority of an EU-27 Member State or, as of now, making an application to the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) for third-country certification (dated with effect as of the UK’s withdrawal from the EU).

6.3There are, however, some instances where it will not be possible for natural and legal persons to mitigate disruption caused by the UK’s withdrawal from the EU. These include, for example, the continued validity of certificates relating to certain aeronautical products, parts, appliances and companies.

6.4This is because, as of withdrawal from the EU (whether negotiated or not), the UK will become a ‘state of design’ under the Convention on International Civil Aviation. The rights and responsibilities associated with being a state of design are currently exercised and fulfilled by EASA on behalf of the UK but, as of exit day, will revert to the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA). The upshot of this is that certificates issued by EASA to UK-based companies will be automatically transferred to the CAA. Affected operators will, therefore, have to reapply to EASA for EU authorisation.

6.5As recognised in the Commission’s impact assessment, failure to provide for this eventuality would likely lead to a period of time where such certificates would not be valid in the EU (i.e. between the UK’s withdrawal from the EU—without any agreement being in place—and the normalisation of legal relations between the UK and EU).30 This is viewed as a problem by the Union as there are globally only a limited number of manufacturers for many of the components used in aircraft—e.g. tyres and engines for large airline-type aircraft—of which a number are based in the UK.

6.6The Commission’s proposal would, therefore, provide for the continued validity of certificates and licences granted to UK-based organisations by EASA—through implementing acts adopted under Regulation (EU) 2018/1139 or Regulation (EC) No 216/2008—for nine months as of EU exit (with the possibility of extension by way of delegated act).31 As such, the Commission’s proposal is not intended to replicate current arrangements or to maintain the status quo—as prevails whilst the UK is an EU Member State—but to act as an extension to allow concerned operators and EASA sufficient time to, respectively, apply for, and issue, new certificates and licences accounting for the UK’s status as a third country.

6.7The EASA-issued certificates covered by the proposal are:

6.8The proposal also provides for the continuing validity of certain certificates issued by CAA-approved organisations in the event of a no-deal Brexit (where the draft Withdrawal Agreement is not ratified by either the EU or UK). Those covered include:

6.9Separate provision is made for the recognition of theoretical training towards the issuance of a pilots or maintenance engineers’ licence that has been undertaken with a UK-based organisation prior to the entry into force of the Regulation.

6.10On the UK side, the Government has previously stated—in a no-deal notice and correspondence to the other place—that it will continue to recognise certificates issued by EASA or by the competent authority of a Member State or an EEA member for up to two years after EU exit.32 Certain certificates, in particular, those relating to aerospace products and parts, will be recognised indefinitely. The Government’s plans for legislation in this regard are laid out in the Aviation Safety (Amendment etc.) (EU Exit) Regulations 2019 (which was laid before the House on 26 November 2018).33

6.11Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the Department for Transport (Baroness Sugg), wrote to the Committee on the proposal under scrutiny by way of Explanatory Memorandum on 14 January 2019. The Minister’s comments on the potential implications of the proposal for UK aviation law and policy are brief. She states that the Government supports the proposal “as it is designed to provide continuity within the EU aviation safety system”.

6.12The Minister suggests that the proposal would help business in two ways. First, it would allow affected UK-based organisations more time following exit day to obtain new third country certificates and licences from EASA and, second, it would allow products and parts released to service by UK authorisation holders to continue to be provided and used by EU-based operators.34

6.13In terms of the current progress of negotiations, the Permanent Representatives Committee endorsed an amended version of the proposal on 22 February following negotiations with the European Parliament. The endorsed text is similar to that published in December and has undergone only minor amendment.

6.14We thank the Minister for her Explanatory Memorandum on the proposal under scrutiny of 14 January 2019. Given the political importance of the draft Regulation, in particular, its potential implications for UK-based business, we wish to closely follow its development and, therefore, retain it under scrutiny.

6.15As a measure seeking—in part—to mitigate the effects of a no-deal Brexit on aviation safety, the Commission’s proposal focuses attention on the preparations of the Government and CAA.

6.16In this regard, we note the letter of the Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union (Rt Hon Steven Barclay MP) to Lord Boswell of Aynho (Chairman of the House of Lords European Union Committee) of 25 January 2019.

6.17The annex to this letter references 16 air services agreements that have been reached between the UK and third countries.

6.18The Committee requests information on:

6.19On future cooperation with the EU in the area of air safety, we request an update on the progress of negotiations on the UK’s future membership of EASA. Notwithstanding that this is foreseen as a matter for future negotiations under the Political Declaration to the Withdrawal Agreement, we believe it pertinent that efforts are made now to explore the possibility of contingency arrangements being put in place should there be a non-negotiated exit from the Union (we do not believe that the nine month extension to the validity of certain certificates—that the proposal under scrutiny would provide—would be sufficient for such arrangements to be reached).

6.20We request, as a hard deadline, a response to our questions and requests for further information by no later than 19 March 2019.

Full details of the documents

Proposal for a Regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council on certain aspects of aviation safety with regard to the withdrawal of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland from the Union: (40305), 15795/18 + ADD 1, COM(18) 894.

Previous Committee Reports


29 Regulation (EU) 2018/1139 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 4 July 2018 on common rules in the field of civil aviation and establishing a European Union Aviation Safety Agency, and amending Regulations (EC) No 2111/2005, (EC) No 1008/2008, (EU) No 996/2010, (EU) No 376/2014 and Directives 2014/30/EU and 2014/53/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council, and repealing Regulations (EC) No 552/2004 and (EC) No 216/2008 of the European Parliament and of the Council and Council Regulation (EEC) No 3922/91.

30 Either by granting third-country certificates to affected UK companies or their relocation to an EU-27 Member State.

31 Regulation (EC) No 216/2008 on common rules in the field of civil aviation and establishing a European Aviation Safety Agency, and repealing Council Directive 91/670/EEC, Regulation (EC) No 1592/2002 and Directive 2004/36/E.

34 Unlike for type approval in the automotive industry, aviation approval covers whether a part, product or appliance can be used; not whether it can be placed on the market.

Published: 12 March 2019