Brexit and aviation: What is the best scenario for the environment?

Since the creation of the European Single Aviation Market, the UK and its airlines have greatly benefited for decades from full access to the European market. This access will cease to exist on 29 March 2019 in the absence of an agreement. Given the current state of Brexit negotiations, the possibility of not reaching a future deal on the aviation relationship would greatly harm the industry, consumers and, particularly, the environment.

While the UK has expressed its desire to retain full access to the European Single Aviation Market for its airlines after Brexit, it has failed to define how it wants to attain this.  As with other areas of the EU single market, full access is conditional upon accepting the whole body of EU law and recognising Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) oversight. In order to avoid environmental dumping and ensure fair competition, the UK must abide by all current and future regulations on safety and security, state aid and climate protection.

With the aim to ensure complete environmental protection in the aviation sector after Brexit, this report proposes four key recommendations if the UK wishes to retain the same level of access to the European aviation market which it currently enjoys:

1. Upon Brexit the UK must re- join the European Common Aviation Area (ECAA). This will allow British airlines to continue enjoying all freedoms of the air. Also, current and future legislation on the environment, market access, State aid control, safety and consumer rights will be extended to the UK.

2. The UK must remain in the EU aviation Emissions Trading System (ETS). This would ensure a smooth transition and continuity on tackling climate change.

3. EU State aid rules must continue to apply to the UK. This would prevent the UK from having free leeway to invest in airport infrastructure and operators to the detriment of the environment.

4. The UK must become a non-voting, fee paying member of the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA), as this would guarantee adhesion to aviation safety standards and mutual recognition.