6 September 2019
The European Commission has issued one of its series of papers on how the EU should prepare for the UK leaving the Union on 31 October 2019, possibly with no deal in place.
Available at ec.europa.eu, this notes that, unless the UK ratifies the Withdrawal Agreement by that date or requests a third extension to which the European Council agrees by unanimity, then it will be a third country as of 1 November 2019 without an agreement to ensure an orderly withdrawal.
In this context, the Commission has proposed to the European Parliament and the Council (representing the 27 other Member States) that they should make “targeted technical adjustments” to the duration of the EU’s “no-deal” contingency measures in the area of transport.
This is of particular interest to public transport operators as it suggests an extension to the validity of EU Regulation 2019/501 “on common rules ensuring basic road freight and road passenger connectivity with regard to the withdrawal of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland from the Union”.
This lays down temporary measures providing that UK coach and bus service operators may, under the detailed conditions it lays down, conduct permitted carriage of passengers by coach and bus constituting regular and special regular services.
It was originally intended that the regulation would cease to apply on 31 December 2019. However, the new Commission proposal suggests that this date be extended until 31 July 2020.
While no contingency measure has been adopted for occasional passenger transport by bus, the Commission points out that necessary preparations have been made to ensure connectivity in this area as of the withdrawal date.
This will be based on an international instrument, the Interbus Agreement. The UK has deposited its instrument of accession to that Agreement, to which it will become a party in its own right after withdrawal.
These proposals still have go through the European legal process. It could be some weeks before they are confirmed.