Urgent need to agree a new EU-US-UK open skies agreement

-   Senator Neale Richmond

Following engagement with European Transport Commissioner, Violeta Bulc, at a meeting of the Oireachtas Transport, Tourism and Sport Committee, Fine Gael Senator and spokesman on European Affairs, Neale Richmond, has welcomed the Commissioner’s commitment that the resolution of transport issues is a key priority as part of the next phase of Brexit negotiations.

Senator Richmond went on to highlight the urgent need for a new EU-US-UK open skies agreement, in order to prevent travel chaos in Europe.

“In the coming days, we will learn if the European Council deems that sufficient progress has been made on the three primary issues for the Brexit negotiations; Ireland, customs and citizens’ rights.

“Once sufficient progress has been made in these areas, the negotiations can move onto the next key priority areas.

“I was heartened to hear the Commissioner emphasise that after the first three priorities, transport is the fourth major issues that needs to be resolved.

“This is particularly key to Ireland when dealing with issues relating to our cross border rail and road networks, as well as maritime concerns such as ports.

“However, the most pressing issue relates to aviation. There is an urgent need to agree a new EU-US-UK open skies agreement to replace the existing EU-US open skies agreement.

“This new agreement needs resolution long before Brexit is due to occur. It needs to be resolved prior to March 2018 when the airlines begin to sell flights into the market a year in advance as per their usual timetables. If a timely deal is not agreed, this cannot happen and will cause chaos for passengers all over Europe. This could have serious negative implications for tourism here in Ireland and for Irish business people who are frequent travellers.

“Put more starkly, if a no Brexit deal occurs, as per the wishes of certain Brexiteers, then flights will quite literally be grounded. This would be a disaster for the U.K., the EU, and particularly Ireland which is most exposed, both geographically and commercially.”

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