1.Transport links are a fundamental component of the relationship between the UK and the EU: trade in goods, and in some services, can only occur if facilitative transport arrangements are in place. Transport networks also have an important social function by enabling the mobility of citizens.
2.The UK’s decision to leave the EU will mean new and different arrangements for shared air, road, rail and maritime transport. In June 2018, the UK’s Brexit negotiating team published a set of slides proposing broad principles for future UK-EU frameworks in each mode. Similar aims were reflected in the Government’s White Paper The future relationship between the United Kingdom and the European Union, published the following month. The White Paper outlined the UK’s desire to maintain reciprocal access for road transport operators, along with close cooperation on maritime, and to conclude bilateral agreements to maintain existing cross-border rail services.
3.The UK Government’s opening position was later superseded by the ‘outline’ Political Declaration on the Future Relationship, published alongside the Withdrawal Agreement on 14 November 2018. A fuller, final, draft of the Political Declaration was published on 22 November 2018. Together, the two documents formed the Government’s proposed Brexit deal.
Article 50(2) TEU states: “In the light of the guidelines provided by the European Council, the Union shall negotiate and conclude an agreement with that State, setting out the arrangements for its withdrawal, taking account of the framework for its future relationship with the Union.” The European Council has consistently stated that the provisions of Article 50 do not permit formal negotiations on the future relationship to commence until the Member State’s withdrawal has taken effect.
The Political Declaration “establishes the parameters of an ambitious, broad, deep and flexible partnership across trade and economic cooperation, law enforcement and criminal justice, foreign policy, security and defence and wider areas of cooperation”. The full 26-page draft was approved by the meeting of the European Council (Art. 50) on 25 November 2018 and presented to Parliament by the Government on 26 November 2018.
The intended scope of future UK-EU arrangements in road, rail and maritime transport is covered in Section X, paragraphs 62–65:
“B. Road transport
The Parties should ensure comparable market access for freight and passenger road transport operators, underpinned by appropriate and relevant consumer protection requirements and social standards … In addition, the Parties should consider complementary arrangements to address travel by private motorists.”
“C. Rail Transport
The parties agree that bilateral arrangements should be established, as appropriate; for cross-border rail services, including to facilitate the continued smooth functioning and operation of rail services, such as the Belfast-Dublin Enterprise line and services through the Channel Tunnel.”
“D. Maritime Transport
… The Parties should also make appropriate arrangements on market access for international maritime transport services. The future relationship should facilitate cooperation on maritime safety and security, including exchange of information between the European Maritime Safety Agency (EMSA) and the United Kingdom Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA), consistent with the United Kingdom’s status as a third country.”
4.We took the majority of our evidence between July and November 2018, culminating in an oral evidence session with the Secretary of State for Transport, Rt Hon Chris Grayling MP, on 14 November 2018, the same day the ‘outline’ Political Declaration and draft Withdrawal Agreement agreed at negotiators’ level were published.
5.The failure to find a House of Commons majority in support of the Government’s Brexit deal over the following months was met with increased preparations on both sides for a ‘no deal’ outcome.
6.In December 2018, the European Commission announced the first tranche of legislative measures to alleviate the most serious disruption arising from ‘no deal’ for citizens and businesses in the EU-27. The final package included temporary measures to provide EU market access for UK road transport operators and to maintain UK-EU cross-border rail transport.
7.In the meantime, the Government continued its programme of laying Statutory Instruments (SIs) to prepare the UK’s statute book for ‘no deal’—65 Brexit-related SIs have been laid by the Department for Transport (DfT). The Government has also published over 100 technical notices on how public bodies, businesses and individuals should prepare for ‘no deal’. At present there are six notices related to road transport, three to maritime and two to rail.
8.In the light of these developments, we held a follow-up evidence session with the Minister of State for Transport, Jesse Norman MP, on 13 March 2019.
9.On 10 April 2019, EU-27 leaders took note of the letter sent by Prime Minister Theresa May asking for a further extension to the Article 50 period and agreed that the UK’s departure from the EU could be delayed up to 31 October 2019.
10.This report discusses the options for future UK-EU arrangements in the road, rail and maritime (including ports) sectors. We examine road transport in Chapters 2–5, rail transport in Chapter 6 and maritime in Chapter 7. Future transport arrangements on the island of Ireland and matters spanning more than one transport mode are discussed in Chapters 8 and 9 respectively. The Committee previously explored the implications of Brexit for aviation in its report Brexit: trade in non-financial services and again in a follow-up letter to the Government in July 2018. We did not take further evidence on the aviation sector during this inquiry.
11.The focus of this report is on frameworks for market access, standards and cooperation in the transport sector. These matters remain applicable to a range of future UK-EU relationship models—for example, a customs union or Canada-style free trade agreement—though some of the implications we discuss would fall away if the UK joined the European Economic Area (EEA).
12.The final shape of future UK-EU transport systems will also be influenced significantly by any future immigration and customs arrangements operating at border crossings—these matters were beyond the scope of this inquiry and their impact on the transport sector stands to vary widely depending on the nature of the UK’s future relationship with the EU. Nonetheless, the potential impact of future customs arrangements in particular was a recurring theme in evidence. This report is therefore usefully read alongside our report Brexit: the customs challenge.
13.We examined the evidence we received in the context of the UK and EU published negotiating positions on transport matters, as well as the shared objectives set out in the Political Declaration. Although the delay to the UK’s departure from the EU has rendered the prospect of ‘no deal’ less imminent, we believe that the implications of ‘no deal’ remain relevant, as any future arrangements may not necessarily address all the matters considered in this report. We note that Brexit-related developments in the transport sector continue.
14.The EU Internal Market Sub-Committee, whose members are listed in Appendix 1, met in September, October and November 2018 and again in March 2019 to take oral evidence, and received 25 written submissions. Witnesses are listed in Appendix 2. The Committee is grateful for their participation in this inquiry.
15.We make this report for debate.
1 HM Government, Framework for the UK-EU partnership: Transport (June 2018), p 6: [accessed 12 December 2018]
2 HM Government, The future relationship between the United Kingdom and the European Union, Cm 9593, July 2018: [accessed 4 December 2018]
3 Outline of the Political Declaration setting out the framework for the future relationship between the European Union and the United Kingdom (14 November 2018): [accessed 12 December 2018]
4 The Withdrawal Agreement and Political Declaration were again laid before Parliament on 11 March 2019, alongside a joint instrument and unilateral declaration by the UK in relation to the operation of the Northern Ireland Protocol. See Department for Exiting the European Union, ‘11 March Withdrawal Agreement and Political Declaration laid before Parliament following political agreement.’ (11 March 2019): [accessed 25 April 2019]
5 European Union Committee, (18th Report, Session 2016–17, HL Paper 135)
6 Letter from Lord Whitty, Chairman of the House of Lords EU Internal Market Sub-Committee, to Lord Callanan, Minister of State for Exiting the European Union (3 July 2018): [accessed 12 December 2018]
7 The EEA Agreement—concluded between the EU and Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway—provides for regulatory alignment between the Parties in all internal market policy areas, including transport. To become applicable throughout the EEA, EU legislation must be incorporated into the EEA Agreement through a decision of its Joint Committee, following consultation with non-EU EEA countries and the Commission.