Lord Lilley: To ask Her Majesty’s Government what announcements the European Union has made regarding continuity arrangements for (1) air travel, (2) haulage, (3) visas, and (4) safety certificates, should the United Kingdom leave the European Union without a deal; and what steps they have taken to give reciprocal assurances.
Baroness Vere of Norbiton: My Lords, the EU has adopted time-limited regulations covering the aviation market access and safety certificates, as well as road haulage and international rail. The EU has also announced visa-free travel for UK nationals travelling to the EU for short stays after exit. The Government have given reciprocal assurances in each of these four areas, which will provide certainty to businesses and citizens should the UK leave the EU without a deal.
Lord Lilley: I thank my noble friend for her reply. Since Britain may well leave the EU with no withdrawal agreement, is it not reassuring that these reciprocal mini-deals, and many others, mean that planes will fly, hauliers will operate, Airbus wings will be exported and visa-free travel will continue? Will she also confirm that HMRC plans no extra checks at Dover and will prioritise flow over compliance, while France is so determined not to lose trade to Belgian and Dutch ports that it has installed multiple extra lorry lanes at Calais, located inspection points away from the ports and installed equipment to scan moving trains, so that the likelihood of congestion and delays has vastly diminished, to the obvious disappointment of the Liberal Democrat Benches?
Baroness Vere of Norbiton: The noble Lord is right in that the mini-deals make any potential exit from the EU without a deal less difficult. But they are, as I have said, time-limited and there will need to be further negotiations when they expire. With regard to Dover, the Government are working to enable cross-channel traffic and goods to continue to move as freely as possible. Government departments have designed customs and additional control arrangements at the UK border, in a way which ensures that goods will be able to flow into and out of the country, and will not be delayed by additional controls. It is true that on the other side of the channel, the French customs authorities have pulled their finger out and installed additional control points. These mean that delays on this side of the channel will be less; however, they will not disappear completely and we therefore cannot expect trade to continue precisely as it did before.