What Will Air Cargo Security Look Like for the U.K. Post-Brexit?

After years of wrangling, The United Kingdom agreed to leave the European Union on January 31 2020. This first year will be a transition period, meaning that nothing will really change while agreements are being reached across multiple sectors.

But what happens next? Well, for air cargo security at least, not much will change when the U.K. finishes the transition process and moves into full blown independence in 2021. Firstly, it’s worth noting that the EU and U.K. disagree on how long it will take to transition while they iron out disagreements and make new alliances to facilitate international trade and cooperation in fields such as law enforcement, intelligence and security. So there’s a possibility that the transition process continues into 2021, although British Prime Minister Boris Johnson is adamant this will not happen.

It seems inevitable that businesses will take a hard hit, with the United Nations predicting exports could see a £32 billion loss. Such figures should have been at the forefront of the Remain in the EU campaign back in 2016 and conveyed across the media that the electorate consumes.

One of the ways to deflect the blow to businesses is to keep policy and process as in line with current arrangements as possible. This is the best case scenario for the government as it pleases its voters who wanted to leave the EU and yet does so without making too great a dent in U.K. trade.

Regarding air cargo from the EU to the U.K., Britain intends to continue to recognize EU cargo security rules to minimize disruption to air cargo networks. Airlines flying from airports in the EU, Switzerland, Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein will be able to fly cargo to the U.K. in the same way as they do now.

For its part the EU intends to recognise the U.K. cargo security regime allowing cargo to continue to fly into the EU. Cargo will therefore be able to fly from the U.K. to the EU, Switzerland, Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein without a security designation, in the same way as it does now.

The EU will also include the U.K. in its One Stop Security system so that cargo screened in the U.K. will not have to undergo additional security checks on arrival in the EU.

When it comes to international cargo beyond the EU, airlines from the rest of the world must have a special security designation to fly cargo into the EU and the U.K. as part of the ACC3 program.

A U.K.-only inbound cargo scheme will be set up to make sure security standards are not affected. This will mirror the EU scheme and grant security designations from 1 January 2021 to allow all cargo to continue to ship smoothly while maintaining existing security standards.

Existing aviation security regulations and procedures will be incorporated into U.K. law.

There is still much to be decided regarding the U.K.’s future relationship with the EU, but this early announcement on air cargo security, indicates that, for security processes at least, the British government intends to stick with practices and legislation that have proven to be reliable.

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Kylie Bielby has more than 20 years' experience in reporting and editing a wide range of security topics, covering geopolitical and policy analysis to international and country-specific trends and events. Before joining GTSC's Homeland Security Today staff, she was an editor and contributor for Jane's, and a columnist and managing editor for security and counter-terror publications.

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