2.   Connectivity, Transport & Travel

2.1.   Connectivity

Given Ireland’s unique geographic position, securing effective connectivity between Ireland, the UK and the rest of the EU has been a key priority of the Government’s Brexit planning. Key aspects relating to connectivity, including in areas such as aviation and road haulage remain subject to the ongoing negotiations between the EU and UK. However, whatever the outcome of the current negotiations, there will be changes which business and individuals must prepare for.

The following section outlines the implications of the UK’s departure from the EU for transport and travel.

2.1.1.  Aviation

Air Connectivity

EU-UK negotiations on the future relationship include a range of issues in the aviation sector including air access between the EU and the UK and aviation safety. However, key issues relating to aviation remain to be agreed between the EU and UK. The outcome of the negotiations will determine the level of access that will be allowed from 1 January 2021. However, even if an agreement is reached, it will not provide for the same level of access as is currently available.

Should the negotiations fail to conclude successfully, or should the EU’s ambitions in the area of aviation fail to be realised, there are limited internationally agreed fall backs in the area of aviation connectivity. In that scenario, Ireland will engage with the European Commission on the possibility of an EU Contingency Regulation to facilitate an appropriate level of aviation connectivity with the UK from the end of the transition period.

Airline Ownership and Control

Under EU law, air operators must fulfil certain ownership and control (O&C) criteria in order to be classified as an EU air carrier, i.e. EU airlines must be over 50% owned and controlled by EU nationals.

Aviation Safety

Certain certificates issued by the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) to persons and organisations located in the UK will no longer be valid in the EU as of the end of the transition period. EU air carriers and holders of aviation safety certificates must ensure that they are in compliance with Union requirements as set out in the aviation safety acquis.

Air Navigation Services

In the event that no agreement is reached in the EU-UK negotiations, arrangements remain in place by EASA to facilitate the application and certification of the UK air navigation service- provider, National Air Traffic Services (NATS), which will enable air navigation services to continue to operate following the end of the transition period.

Passenger Security

On 14 March 2019 the EU took the necessary regulatory measures to add the UK to the list of countries with which it has a ‘One Stop Security’ agreement. As a result, passengers (and their baggage) flying from the UK will continue to be able to transfer at an EU airport for an onward flight without experiencing additional security rescreening procedures. The UK Government has also confirmed that the security screening requirements for all direct passenger flights to and from the UK will remain as they are today.

2.1.2.  Rail

Iarnród Éireann and Northern Ireland Railways have put in place all the necessary arrangements to ensure continuity of rail passenger services, in association with the relevant regulatory authorities and in full compliance with the legal requirements applicable in both the European Union and the United Kingdom. These preparations involved a combination of contractual arrangements between the two companies, together with appropriate licensing arrangements. The operations of the Dublin-Belfast Enterprise Service should continue unaffected after the end of the transition period.

2.1.3.  Road

International Road Haulage

International road haulage plays a critical role in facilitating Irish economic activity. Key issues relating to road haulage, including point-to-point access, transit and cabotage, remain to be agreed between the EU and UK. The outcome of the negotiations will determine the level of access that will be allowed from 1 January 2021. However, even if an agreement is reached, it will not provide for the same level of access as is currently available.

Should the negotiations fail to conclude successfully there are limited internationally agreed fall backs for the international haulage sector. In such an event, Ireland will engage with the European Commission on the possibility of EU Contingency Regulations to facilitate an appropriate level of international haulage connectivity with the UK from the end of the transition period.

In addition to the rights of access, there would also be implications for other road transport policy aspects of road haulage such as road safety, social, environmental and technical regulations (drivers’ hours, rest periods, certificates of professional competency, etc.). Details of these can be found on www.dttas.gov.ie/brexit.

From 1 January 2021, regardless of the outcome of the ongoing negotiations, the UK will no longer apply the rules of the EU’s Single Market and Customs Union. This means any business which moves goods from, to and through the UK (excluding Northern Ireland) will be subject to a range of new customs formalities and other regulatory requirements. Businesses, including haulage and logistic companies, should be familiar with all documentation that will be required for moving goods between Ireland and the UK from this date. Hauliers will not be able to board ferries to and from the UK from 1 January 2021 unless all documentation has been completed in advance and properly presented. More information on these issues is set out in Chapter 2 of this Action Plan.

Cross Border Bus Services

The Government is committed to ensuring the continuity of cross border bus services following the end of the transition period.

A number of matters are the subject of ongoing negotiations between the EU and the UK. It is also hoped that the UK is in a position to provide for ratification of the Interbus Agreement and its Protocol (an international agreement (and extended Protocol) governing bus services between a third country and the European Union) before the end of the transition period, in order to ensure entry into force on 1 January 2021. In such a scenario, full connectivity for bus and coach services would be continued into the future, with the exception of passenger cabotage.

In the event that no agreement is reached between the EU and the UK, and the UK does not accede to the Interbus Protocol before 31 December 2020, Ireland will engage with the European Commission on the possibility of an EU Contingency Regulation to facilitate appropriate levels of cross border bus services post-transition. As a further national contingency measure, Part 13 of the 2020 Brexit Bill allows the Minister for Transport to facilitate the continuation of cross border bus services in such circumstances.

2.1.4.  Maritime Connectivity

Following ongoing consultation with the shipping sector, and given that a number of new direct services have been established between Irish and continental ports, including during the COVID-19 pandemic, it is the Government’s assessment that sufficient capacity should be available on direct routes to continental ports following the end of the transition period.

If a period of disruption arises, i.e. where demand for direct routes to continental ports exceeds supply due to disruption on the UK landbridge route, it would likely be most acute in the immediate period following 1 January 2021 due to the short time lag between an increased demand for direct connectivity to the Continent and a market response, as shipping companies assess the situation and put in place the measures for a response.

COVID-19 has delivered an unprecedented shock to the shipping sector with a collapse in passenger numbers travelling by sea. The Government has been working through various channels to assist ports and shipping companies where possible to keep the supply chains operating during this crisis and this should ensure the industry is better placed to provide sufficient freight and passenger capacity following the end of the transition period.

2.2.   Driving license and insurance requirements

After the end of the transition period, UK driving licences will no longer be valid for persons living in Ireland. UK licence holders will need to exchange their UK licence for an Irish licence. The National Driver Licence Service (NDLS) delivers the driving licence and learner permit service on behalf of the Road Safety Authority (RSA), and during 2019, 49,685 UK and Northern Ireland licence exchange applications were processed, with a further 3,496 to 27 August 2020. Details of how to exchange your licence can be found on www.ndls.ie. You should seek to exchange your licence immediately and well in advance of 31 December 2020 to allow sufficient time to receive your new licence. The requirement to exchange your licence only applies to people resident in Ireland and does not apply to or affect visitors or holidaymakers in Ireland.

The vast majority of Irish motor insurance policies already include cover for travel in the UK. In such cases, drivers will continue to be insured to drive in the UK post transition. Prior to travel to the UK, policy holders should review their insurance policy to confirm that such travel is explicitly covered.

Green Cards

A green card is a document which can be presented to law enforcement officers on request, as proof of motor insurance while in international travel. The EU Motor Insurance Directive allows all motor vehicles from any EU Member States to travel within the EU without the requirement to carry a Green Card. This Directive will no longer apply to the UK post-transition, meaning UK and Northern Ireland-registered vehicles entering Ireland, or any EU Member State, from 1 January 2021 will require a Green Card as proof of motor insurance.

For EU-registered vehicles entering the UK, the UK confirmed in the lead-up to a possible no deal Brexit in October 2019 that it will accept either a Green Card or other proof of insurance. In the case of Irish-registered vehicles, the UK has confirmed that it will accept the motor insurance disc as proof of insurance. This means, based on the UK position, that Green Cards will not be required for Irish-registered vehicles entering Northern Ireland or Great Britain.

2.3.   Roaming

At the end of the transition period, access for Irish consumers to Roam-Like-At-Home in the European Union will no longer apply in relation to travel to the UK. Mobile operators will as a result be able to apply a surcharge on roaming customers. This will include in relation to travel by Irish consumers to Northern Ireland. The majority of telecommunication operators have indicated their intention to continue with the present regime after December 2020, this however could be subject to change over time.

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