Will travel regulations be ditched as UK rips up EU laws?

By Linsey McNeill
Home » Will travel regulations be ditched as UK rips up EU laws?

The Government has announced it is to amend, repeal or replace ALL EU laws by the end of next year.

Under the Brexit Freedoms Bill introduced by Parliament on Thursday, it will end the special legal status of all ‘retained EU law’ by 31 December 2023.

In a statement issued today, the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS) said: “Many EU laws kept on after Brexit were agreed as part of a complex compromise between 28 different EU member states and were simply duplicated into the UK’s statue books, often not considering the UK’s own priorities or objectives.

“The Brexit Freedom Bill will enable the UK government to remove years of burdensome EU regulation in favour of a more agile, home-grown regulatory approach that benefits people and businesses across the UK.”

The Government said the bill will remove around £1 billion of red tape.

Business Secretary Jacob Rees-Mogg said the UK now has ‘a fantastic opportunity to do away with outdated and burdensome EU laws’.

In theory, this could include travel-specific laws such as the Package Travel Regulations and UK regulation 261 covering compensation for flight disruption, both of which originated in the EU.

However, industry commentators believe it unlikely that the Package Travel Regulations or UK261 will be changed or, at least, not by much.

In fact, EU’s 17-year-old flight compensation rules were written into UK law with only minor tweaks as recently as 2019, after Britain had voted to leave the EU. The main change was that the amount of compensation to be awarded to passengers was switched from euros to pounds.

Lawyer Matt Gatenby, Senior Partner at specialist travel law firm Travlaw said: “With the UK Government clearly believing that laws like the Package Travel Regulations and 261/2004 have done their job well in terms of protecting consumers, I doubt very much they would want to remove them or amend them in any meaningful way.

“I can well imagine some tweaks to both, but nothing major.”

However, Ashleigh Ovland, Knowledge Counsel (Aerospace) for law firm HFW said the Government is considering amending compensation rules for domestic flights to bring them more into line with the cost of the airfare. It wasn’t able to do this when Britain was part of the EU, but it is free to do so now and a consultation process has already begun.

Ashleigh pointed out that there will be no changes to UK261 with regard to international flights, partly because the Trade and Cooperation Agreement with the Brexit Deal included obligations to continue to offer passengers the same level of protection as previously.

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