Date laid: 4 February 2019
Sifting period ends: 20 February 2019
1.An EU Regulation provides reciprocal liberalised market access for “regular” (scheduled) and “occasional” (non-scheduled, for example holiday or tour) coach services between the UK and the EU. The EU Regulation establishes the conditions for the international carriage of passengers by coach and bus within the EU, and within Member States by non-resident EU operators (cabotage). This proposed negative instrument, laid by the Department for Transport, enables current bus and coach operators from the EU to operate in the UK after exit day (EU operators who wish to run a new regular service in the UK after exit day will need to obtain an authorisation in the UK). However, reciprocal rights for UK operators operating in the EU market after exit day cannot be guaranteed. Therefore, the Government intend the UK to join “Interbus”, a multilateral treaty between the EU and seven other contracting parties, as a contracting party in its own right. The UK deposited its instrument of ratification on 30 January 2019, so the UK will formally accede to the Interbus Agreement on 1 April 2019.
2.At present, Interbus only provides for “occasional” coach travel between the parties. A Protocol to the Agreement was opened for signature in July 2018 to extend Interbus to allow “regular” and “special regular” services (cross-border services taking specific passengers to school or work), but no contracting party has yet signed the Protocol so it could take at least three months for this Protocol to come into effect. As a result, “regular” and “special regular” services will not be able to take place immediately after exit day.
3.Given the potential impact on coach services, particularly in Northern Ireland, the House may wish to debate this instrument. The House may wish to press the Minister, in particular, on why there will be a two-day period between the UK exiting the EU and the Interbus Agreement entering into force (during which UK-operated occasional services will not be able to operate in the EU), and also on what the impact will be on “regular” and “special regular” services, and on cabotage services since Interbus does not provide for these. The Committee therefore recommends that this proposed negative instrument be upgraded to the affirmative resolution procedure.
1 Regulation (EC) No .
2 See Secondary Legislation Scrutiny Committee, , Session 2017-19 ( HL Paper 190).
3 Four contracting parties need to sign the Protocol, including the European Community, with the Protocol then coming into force in the third month after the fourth signature is made. As of 11 January, no contracting party had signed the Protocol so it is unlikely that regular services will be authorised under the Interbus Agreement immediately after exit day.