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European Aviation Safety Agency Membership

Volume 673: debated on Thursday 12 March 2020

16. What his policy is on the UK’s membership of the European Aviation Safety Agency after the end of the transition period. (901506)

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?

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 certainly, without any doubt, we would 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.

The aviation industry is in crisis and 84,000 UK jobs are potentially under threat, yet the Government plan to withdraw from EASA, despite the warnings from the industry and despite its costing 10 times as much money. Will the Transport Secretary put a stop to this reckless plan, stop this needless waste of public money and protect Britain’s impressive and world-leading role in aviation safety?

The hon. Gentleman is right that the UK has the third largest aviation network, but the idea that we are there because of EASA is untrue. The reality is that we already have the expertise in this country. It is the Civil Aviation Authority that administers the entire system, so there is no particular role that we cannot step up and fill. In case the hon. Gentleman had not noticed, this country voted to leave Europe. I know the Labour party has struggled to understand this fundamental point about when we vote to do something, but people voted for it in a referendum and they voted for it again in a general election, and we are leaving.