Socio-economic cooperation

There are many other areas where the UK and EU economies are closely linked, including transport, energy, civil judicial cooperation, intellectual property, and audit and accountancy. The particularly close integration between EU Member States in these areas reflects their membership of the Single Market, and the UK recognises that it will not be possible to replicate this entirely once it has left the EU.

However, there are precedents outside of the Single Market for close cooperation. The UK will look to draw on these precedents in the future relationship, ensuring arrangements of mutual benefit to the UK and the EU that respect UK sovereignty and the autonomy of the EU’s institutions.

The UK’s proposals include:

  • an Air Transport Agreement which seeks to maintain reciprocal liberalised aviation access between and within the territory of the UK and the EU, alongside UK participation in EASA;
  • exploring options for road transport, including reciprocal access for UK and EU road hauliers and passenger transport operators;
  • close cooperation on maritime, including with the European Maritime Safety Agency (EMSA);
  • bilateral rail agreements with the relevant Member States to support the continued operation of services through the Channel Tunnel and on the Belfast-Dublin Enterprise line;
  • exploring options for our future energy relationship – maintaining the Single Electricity Market (SEM) across the island of Ireland in any eventuality;
  • a new civil nuclear relationship based on a comprehensive Nuclear Cooperation Agreement (NCA) between Euratom and the UK;
  • seeking to join the Lugano Convention, and exploring a new bilateral agreement with the EU on civil judicial cooperation, covering a coherent package of rules on jurisdiction, choice of jurisdiction, applicable law and recognition and enforcement of judgments in civil, commercial, insolvency, and family matters;
  • exploring options on intellectual property, including participation in the Unified Patent Court and unitary patent system; and
  • seeking EU equivalence and adequacy decisions under the EU’s audit and accounting third country regimes by the end of the implementation period.


The UK has the largest aviation industry in Europe,and the UK’s geographical position in the network is key, with around 80 percent of all North Atlantic traffic passing through the UK or Irish controlled airspace. Air travel is vital in connecting people and businesses and facilitating tourism and trade. In 2017, 164 million passengers travelled between the UK and other EU Member States by air.

It is in the UK’s and the EU’s interests to protect the connectivity, choice, and value for money that UK and EU consumers enjoy today. Moreover, the future arrangements should allow for innovation within the industry, giving flexibility to current and future airlines to offer greater choice and connectivity to passengers.

The UK will explore options for maintaining reciprocal liberalised access through an Air Transport Agreement. This would permit UK and EU carriers to operate air services to, from and within the territory of both the UK and the EU on an equal basis. This could be supported through an approach to ownership and control that avoids introducing additional barriers to businesses. There is a precedent for this within the EU-Canada Air Services Agreement, which provides for the possibility of fully liberalised access subject to a sufficiently open bilateral approach to ownership and control.

the UK will seek participation in EASA. In addition to ensuring that manufacturers should only need to undergo one series of tests in either market, this would also support collective work on aviation safety, reducing regulatory barriers for businesses and ensuring continued high standards for safety across Europe.

The UK will seek close cooperation on air traffic management to maintain interoperability, and benefit consumers and the environment, through reduced journey times, lower costs and lower emissions. In addition, the UK will continue close collaboration on aviation security, so that the UK and the EU can continue to address evolving shared threats in the most effective way.

Road transport

The road transport sector provides a highly efficient network of connections between the UK and the EU, supporting supply chains. While the vast majority of freight lifted in the UK is domestic, approximately 80 percent of UK cross-border haulage is handled by non-UK hauliers,demonstrating the importance of continued connectivity to both the UK and the EU.

The UK wants to explore options for reciprocal access for road hauliers and passenger transport operators, and arrangements for private motoring. The UK is taking legislation through Parliament to ensure that a permitting system can operate if required. The UK has already agreed with the EU that the necessary conditions must be maintained for North-South cooperation on transport between Northern Ireland and Ireland. In line with the statutory provisions the UK has brought forward in Parliament, and the progress made with the EU on preserving cross-border cooperation, the UK will ensure that there is no requirement in any scenario for new permits for transport services between Northern Ireland and Ireland.


The maritime sector is liberalised at a global level. On that basis, UK ship operators will be able to serve EU ports largely as now, following the UK’s withdrawal from the EU. In the interests of tackling shared safety, security and environmental issues, the UK propose to continue cooperating closely with both the EU and the EMSA, including sharing information on safety and to counter pollution.

The UK is at the heart of the global maritime industry and has recognised expertise in areas such as safety and accident investigation, which are vital to ensuring the safety of ships, passengers, and crew. The UK will continue to be a strong advocate for the safety and environmental performance of shipping and an active member of the International Maritime Organization (IMO).


The UK and relevant Member States have a common interest in ensuring that cross-border rail services, the Channel Tunnel, and the Belfast-Dublin Enterprise line, continue without disruption. Over 10 million passengers travelled on the Eurostar in 2017, and the Eurotunnel’s passenger and freight shuttle carried 2.6 million passenger vehicles, 1.6 million HGVs and 51,000 coaches in 2017.

The EU and the UK have agreed that the UK will pursue bilateral agreements with France, Belgium, and the Netherlands to ensure the continued smooth functioning and operation of services through the Channel Tunnel, and with Ireland to do the same for the Belfast-Dublin Enterprise line. Beyond those cross-border services, the UK will have the flexibility to shape its own domestic railway legislation to meet the needs of its passengers and freight shippers and reflect the unique characteristics of the rail network within the UK.

This Article draws on the White Paper The Future Relationship between the United Kingdom and the European Union Presented to Parliament by the Prime Minister July 2018 Cm 9593. UK public sector information is reproduced pursuant to the Open Government Licence  The Legal Materials contain UK public sector information licensed under the Open Government Licence v3.0. The Licence is available  at (the UK Licence).

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