“European shipowners strongly believe that to the extent possible, the EU and the UK should aim for conformity in legislation relating to maritime affairs. It should really be recognised as a guiding objective for the Brexit negotiations,” Patrick Verhoeven, ECSA Secretary General, commented.
As disclosed, an overall concern of EU shipowners relates to their competitiveness, among others in the fiscal area. With a possible new, attractive shipping center just across the Channel, there is ever more reason to look at the EU’s shipping policy and ensure the EU remains a competitive location for shipping companies to do business.
In the short term, EU shipowners have three immediate priorities that should be given due attention throughout the process. They include frictionless traffic by sea between the UK and the EU, free movement of seafarers, onshore staff and passengers and continued market access to the domestic trades and the offshore sector.
Around half of UK exports and imports are to and from the EU and most of it is done through ships. Returning to the situation which existed before the Customs Union and imposing extensive border procedures would cause heavy congestion in EU and UK ports, according to ECSA.
Another key priority for EU shipowners is the free movement of their seafarers and their company staff. Seafarers of third countries employed on EU or UK vessels should be granted easy access to the UK. In addition, EU or UK citizens that wish to travel by sea should be allowed to continue to do so in a smooth way, without adding any heavy procedures such as visa applications, ECSA added.
“Concerning market access, the UK’s domestic and offshore market is open. Likewise, EU markets are fully open. This reciprocal market access should be preserved,” Verhoeven concluded.