UK Government Lays Out Future Cooperation with EU in Space After Brexit

The European Centre for Space Applications and Telecommunications (ECSAT) is ESA’s facility in the United Kingdom. It is based at the Harwell Campus in Oxfordshire. (Credit: Harwell Campus)

With the United Kingdom (UK) now negotiating its withdrawal from the European Union (EU), the government has published a plan for how the two governments can continue to work together across a broad range of areas after Brexit.

While the UK can remain a full member of the European Space Agency without being a member of the EU, a number of disruptions could occur across the space and aerospace sector. Continued British participation in the EU’s Galileo satellite navigation system and the Copernicus Earth observation program are  key areas of concern.

Below are excerpts from the report covering possible cooperation in space and in the harmonization of standards in aerospace manufacturing. (Emphasis mine)

The Future Relationship Between the United Kingdom and the European Union

Presented to Parliament by the Prime Minister
by Command of Her Majesty
July 2018

Full Report

Selected Excerpts

2.4.6 Space

91. The UK and the EU are both reliant on access to space technologies for national resilience and military capabilities, and to reduce vulnerability to threats such as hacking and severe space weather.

92. The UK and the EU should continue to cooperate closely on relevant space technologies, through continued UK participation in EU space programmes, including Galileo, the EU Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS) that, once fully operational, will provide accurate position, navigation and timing information. It will benefit governments, citizens and industry alike.

93. The UK wants Galileo to be a core component of the future security partnership. The UK’s continued participation in Galileo is in the mutual interests of the UK and the EU, benefitting European competitiveness, security, capability development and interoperability. An end to close UK participation would be to the detriment of Europe’s prosperity and security and could result in delays and additional costs to the programme.

94. However, at present there is a fundamental difference of views between the UK and the EU about the conditions under which the UK could participate in Galileo. The UK has put forward proposals which are intended to respect the EU’s decision making autonomy and establish a balance of rights, distinct from Member State access, and obligations. These include a UK ability to independently assure the integrity of the system, so the UK can rely on it for strategic defence and security purposes.

95. The EU has put forward proposals which have the effect of ending UK participation. This would be to the detriment of Europe’s security and prosperity. The UK and the EU must work through issues relating to access to security-related elements of the programme urgently in the framework of negotiations on the security partnership. The UK’s clear preference remains to participate in Galileo, in a new balance of rights and obligations, after it has left the EU. The programme must also offer value for money to justify an ongoing UK contribution. As a logical consequence of the exclusion and uncertainty surrounding future UK participation, the UK is exploring alternatives to fulfil its needs for secure and resilient position, navigation and timing information.

3.4.5 Space

50. The UK is home to a world leading space technologies sector which has helped drive the EU’s space programmes. This brings benefits to the UK and the EU. The value of the European space sector was estimated at £37-43 billion in 2014, representing around 21 per cent of the value of the global sector.101 The UK and the EU should develop new arrangements for cooperation on space that support European security and mutual prosperity.

51. The UK is therefore proposing that the future relationship includes a space accord that:

a. provides for UK participation in EU strategic space projects; and
b. establishes channels for regular dialogue between the UK and the EU on space policy.

52. The UK and the EU should continue to cooperate on the development and operation of EU space programmes, including Galileo and Copernicus, and ensure the eligibility for UK entities to compete for all programme contracts on an open and fair basis, including those relating to the Galileo programme’s secure elements, as set out in chapter 2.4.6.

1.2.3 Manufactured goods

24. The UK and the EU are both home to strong manufacturing sectors such as automotives, aerospace, chemicals, electronics, machinery and pharmaceuticals. The production of manufactured goods rarely takes place in one location, with modern manufacturing seeing increasingly specialised firms, with complex supply chains that stretch across multiple countries and operate on a ‘just-in-time’ basis. Both the UK and the EU will want to ensure that European manufacturing continues to thrive in an increasingly competitive global market.

25. The UK’s proposal for a common rulebook would underpin the free trade area for goods. It would cover only those rules necessary to provide for frictionless trade at the border. In the case of manufactured goods, this encompasses all rules that could be checked at the border, as they set the requirements for placing manufactured goods on the market, and includes those which set environmental requirements for products, such as their energy consumption. Certainty around a common rulebook would be necessary to reassure the UK and the EU that goods in circulation in their respective markets meet the necessary regulatory requirements, removing the need to undertake regulatory checks at the border. It would also ensure interoperability between UK and EU supply chains, and avoid the need for manufacturers to run separate production lines for each market. As now, UK firms would be able to manufacture products for export that meet the regulatory requirements of third countries.

26. A common rulebook for manufactured goods is in the UK’s interests. It reflects the role the UK has had in shaping the EU’s rules throughout its membership, as well as the interests of its manufacturers, and the relative stability of the manufactured goods acquis. The UK would also seek participation – as an active participant, albeit without voting rights – in EU technical committees that have a role in designing and implementing rules that form part of the common rulebook. This should ensure that UK regulators could continue to contribute their expertise and capability to EU agencies, including preparing expert opinions that facilitate decisions about individual products.

27. The UK has long advocated a convergence of rules and standards for goods, whether as a member of the EU or on the global stage. The adoption of a common rulebook means that the British Standards Institution (BSI) would retain its ability to apply the “single standard model” – so that where a voluntary European standard is used to support EU rules, the BSI could not put forward any competing national standards. This would ensure consistency between UK and EU standards wherever this type of standard is adopted, with input from businesses, by the European Standards Organisations (ESOs). It would ensure consumers do not face multiple standards for the same products. It would also enable the UK to continue playing a leading role in the ESOs, and with the EU on a global stage, for example in the International Organization on Standardization (ISO), to ensure that there is greater convergence at the international level.

28. In the context of a common rulebook, the UK believes that manufacturers should only need to undergo one series of tests in either market, in order to place products in both markets. This would be supported by arrangements covering all relevant compliance activity, supplemented by continued UK participation in agencies for highly regulated sectors including for medicines, chemicals and aerospace. This would be underpinned by strong reciprocal commitments to open and fair trade and a robust institutional framework.