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12 Jul 2018

BY James Chapple

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May's Brexit framework 'cold comfort' for travel industry

Theresa May’s proposed new UK-EU “mobility framework” doesn’t go far enough to address key travel sector concerns about Brexit, industry figures have warned.

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May's Brexit framework 'cold comfort' for travel industry

The prime minister held a cabinet meeting on Friday (July 6) at Chequers in an attempt to unify senior government figures on Brexit.


May later hailed the “collective” agreement, which will inform a government white paper setting out the UK’s preferred relationship with the EU.


A 12-point plan and longer three-page statement reiterated the government’s conviction it would end free inbound movement to control immigration, while introducing a new “mobility framework”.


This, the agreement says, would allow UK and EU citizens to continue travelling between territories, and apply to study and work.


Speaking to TTG on Tuesday (July 10), Aito chairman Derek Moore said travel’s main concerns remained an aviation agreement and a solution to the issue of posted workers.


He said a failure to agree free movement for posted workers could force tour operators, particularly ski specialists, to use domestic reps, making them subject instead to local employment laws.


“The government is still trying to cherry-pick,” said Moore. “What happens when the EU says ‘we’re not interested’ and [EU chief Brexit negotiator Michel] Barnier laughs it off? Where do we go from there?”


Speaking at Abta’s recent Future Talent in the Travel Industry seminar, Elaine Bader, head of overseas resourcing for Eurocamp, which employs 1,500 young people from the UK at its resorts in France, Spain and Italy, said it urgently required clarity on employment before signing up workers this September for 2019.


Chris Wright, managing director of tour operator Sunvil, added May’s suggestion offered as little comfort as it did information.


“Until we see the details, we will still have concerns as to how it will affect our staff currently employed under the posted workers directive,” Wright told TTG. “Considering what has happened in the last 24 hours, I’m not sure we can take much comfort.”


Late on Sunday night (July 8), David Davis, secretary of state for exiting the EU, resigned, plunging May’s cabinet into crisis.


Foreign secretary Boris Johnson followed Davis out the door on Monday (July 9), sparking an impromptu reshuffle. Housing minister Dominic Raab will succeed Davis, while health secretary Jeremy Hunt becomes foreign secretary.


Meanwhile, the European Parliament has green-lit its new €7 (£6) Esta-style pre-screening security system, Etias.


The charge will apply to “visa- exempt third-country nationals” travelling to the Schengen area, which could include UK nationals if no exemption is agreed with the EU.


Should the European Council adopt the system, Etias could be operational by the end of 2021.

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