If months and months of Covid have pushed Brexit to the far corners of your mind, you're not alone—but like those objects in the mirror, it is closer than it appears, and there are new warnings that after December 31, European and British airlines may be cut off from serving each other.
Britain's Transport Minister, Grant Shapps, acknowledged earlier this week that if the two sides do not complete the detailed withdrawal arrangements before the UK's final ties to Europe are broken, flights could be grounded. At present, EU and UK airlines are covered by an 'open-skies' agreement that lets them fly anywhere within the UK and EU.
The transition period, during which the UK is no longer a member of the EU but is still required to observe its rules, ends with the year, and the details of the final withdrawal agreement are still being negotiated, and not very smoothly.
Disputes over fishing rights, data protection, aviation safety, social security coordination, climate change and more are still being negotiated, but perhaps the biggest obstacle is a bill pending in the UK Parliament, supported by Prime Minister Boris Johnson, which would claim the right to unilaterally change part of the already-approved withdrawal treaty provisions on Ireland. The EU has warned that the final agreements cannot be signed if the UK violates the treaty.