Brexit agreements must not overlook what’s best for the rail business community
The Community of European Railway and Infrastructure Companies (CER) has emphasised that Brexit must not undermine the ongoing development of the Single European Rail Area.
As a service with public relevance, railways are a network industry that operate in a heavily regulated environment. Legal certainty for rail business and in the relations between the EU and the UK is of fundamental importance.
At a parliamentary hearing on 22 November 2017 organised by the European Parliament Committee on Transport and Tourism, discussions centred around the views of assessing the impact of Brexit on land transport business.
At the hearing, CER Executive Director Libor Lochman, said: “At this stage of the negotiations, it is difficult to assess what the impact of Brexit will be. If Brexit will mean an abrupt withdrawal from the Union, with neither a post-Brexit agreement between the parties nor any other transitional arrangement in place, then I have no doubt that the impact on the rail sector will be challenging.”
From different sides of the rail business, all speakers at the hearing fundamentally agreed that a hard Brexit will present challenges for the industry. Libor also underlined five key priorities for rail to mitigate this risk:
- Access must be guaranteed for UK operators to the EU market and for EU operators to the UK market on the basis of symmetrical conditions
- Free movement of workers between the UK and EU should be kept as far as possible. Secondments and cross-border deployment of staff in the transport are particularly important
- The harmonisation of technical rules and mutual recognition processes in the Single European Rail Area should continue on the path set by the Technical Pillar of the Fourth Railway Package, while at the same time taking into account the need for some flexibility in the application of its rules for non-EU members
- A Common Travel Area for passengers and seamless border procedures for rail freight travelling between the UK and Ireland should be established
- Appropriate technical, legal and financial arrangements in the field of EU research and innovation should be in place to allow UK operators, manufacturers and research institutions to contribute to EU research and innovation programmes.
Libor added: “If negotiating parties can find an agreement on these five priorities, we believe that railways in the EU and UK can run competitive cross border passenger and freight services and continue to contribute to the delivery of the Single European Rail Area and all the benefits for customers that it brings.”