With the EU and the UK still far from reaching a deal, according to reports, Brussels has made a move to publish its contingency plans to ensure travel can continue after the end of the transition period.
“While the Commission will continue to do its utmost to reach a mutually beneficial agreement with the UK, there is now significant uncertainty whether a deal will be in place on January 1st 2021,” read a statement on Thursday.
“The European Commission has today put forward a set of targeted contingency measures ensuring basic reciprocal air and road connectivity between the EU and the UK, as well as allowing for the possibility of reciprocal fishing access by EU and UK vessels to each other's waters.”
If no deal is reached between London and Brussels then the legal agreements that allow flights to operate between the UK and the EU and road passenger and haulage to run smoothly will expire.
So on Thursday the EU put forward contingency plans to allow road transport connectivity and flights to continue operating, but they were conditional on the UK accepting the rules.
The aim of these contingency measures is to cater for the period during which there is no agreement in place. If no agreement enters into application, they will end after a fixed period.
Commission president Ursula von der Leyen said: “Negotiations are still ongoing.
“However, given that the end of the transition is very near, there is no guarantee that if and when an agreement is found, it can enter into force on time.
“Our responsibility is to be prepared for all eventualities, including not having a deal in place with the UK on January 1st 2021. That is why we are coming forward with these measures today”.
The basic contingency plans are as follows:
- Basic air connectivity: A proposal for a Regulation to ensure the provision of certain air services between the UK and the EU for 6 months, provided the UK ensures the same.
- Aviation safety: A proposal for a Regulation ensuring that various safety certificates for products can continue to be used in EU aircraft without disruption, thereby avoiding the grounding of EU aircraft.
- Basic road connectivity: A proposal for a Regulation covering basic connectivity with regard to both road freight, and road passenger transport for 6 months, provided the UK assures the same to EU hauliers.
The UK had not officially responded but the government's transport secretary, Grant Shapps has said previously: “The government’s priority is to ensure that flights can continue to operate safely, securely and punctually between the UK/EU at the end of transition period, regardless of the outcome of negotiations.
“Air travel is vital for both the UK and the EU in connecting people and facilitating trade and tourism, and we are confident measures will be in place to allow for continued air connectivity beyond the end of 2020.”
For passengers travelling between the UK and the EU after January 1st a raft of changes will come in regardless of whether or not a deal is reached – full details here.
Travellers from the UK also face the possibility of being excluded from the EU under Covid rules that have seen the Bloc's external borders closed to all non-essential travel since March.