The draft Withdrawal Agreement: implications for shipping
On the 14 November, the draft EU-UK Withdrawal Agreement and draft outline political declaration were published (our blog post on this is available to read here). The draft Withdrawal Agreement still needs the approval of Parliament, which current reports indicate may be tricky to obtain.
Below we have highlighted the key points of both documents from a shipping perspective:
- There is a high-level statement in the Political Declaration about maritime matters which indicates that there is a commitment to maintaining what is described as ‘connectivity within the maritime sector’ and a statement that there will be continued cooperation on maritime safety and security.
- During the transition period, the UK will be subject to both existing EU law and EU law which enters into force during the transition period but the UK will not take an active role in the EU’s decision making processes. This means that until the end of the transition period, UK and EU shipping companies should maintain the same levels of access to each other’s markets as is currently the case and the same regulatory regime should apply. Market access and regulation is less likely to be a concern for the shipping industry than it is for other sectors given the global nature of the maritime industry and the international regulation which it is subject to. There is a mechanism in the Withdrawal Agreement to extend the transition period, subject to agreement from a joint committee of representatives from the UK and EU.
- The draft Withdrawal Agreement provides where EU regulations on common rules and standards for ship inspections and survey organisations require the EU or Member States acting jointly to carry out risk assessments approvals, examinations and authorisation, the UK will not, during the transition period, be able to act as leading authority in such circumstances .
- The Northern Ireland Protocol (which is discussed further in our blog post), sets out the terms on which the relationship between the UK and EU will be governed after the transition period ends in the context of the border issues between Ireland and Northern Ireland, before a more permanent agreement can be entered into. The Protocol provides for a temporary customs union between EU and the UK, but with Northern Ireland having greater regulatory alignment with the EU on a number of matters including certain maritime legislation (such as EU regulations on ship recycling and marine equipment).
Further briefings covering the draft Withdrawal Agreement and its impact on the maritime sector will be available on our blog www.insidebrexitlaw.com in due course.