Orkney and Shetland MP, Alistair Carmichael, has challenged Ministers to explain their position on ending UK membership of the EASA, the European Aviation Safety Agency. Speaking in the House of Commons, Mr Carmichael highlighted the potential harm to industry and the position of business leaders that continued membership of EASA was possible outside the Single Market.
Speaking in the House, Mr Carmichael said:
“The Secretary of State will be aware that that news has not been well received by the aviation industry. The ADS, which represents over 1,100 UK companies, has noted that the UK and the EU could have an arrangement, in the same way that Switzerland does, giving us full membership of EASA without even having any jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice. Why would that be a problem for the Government?”
Responding for the Government, the Secretary of State for Transport, Grant Shapps, said:
“Because the EU said in its statement of negotiating parameters on 15 January that UK participation in EASA is not viable from its perspective. It would not be viable from a UK perspective either, because we would be subject to ECJ rulings in one form or another, and… have to accept the European Commission creating the laws under which we would exist— and this country voted for Brexit. However, we will have a bilateral aviation safety agreement—a so-called BASA. We will also have a comprehensive air transport agreement—a so-called CATA—to enable smooth transport to continue.”
Reacting after the exchange, Mr Carmichael said:
“The Minister’s response suggests he is more interested in posturing than in practical concerns. Switching to a bilateral agreement as he suggests introduces significant costs and disruption to an industry that is already facing serious economic and social headwinds. We have already seen the real impact of these in the demise of Flybe, with a human cost around the country.
“Ensuring the future safety and stability of aviation in the UK should not be simplified to a “Brexit against Remain” argument. If industry groups and safety experts agree that leaving EASA is a risk for export success and for effective regulation, the Government should take off the Brexit blinkers and start listening.”