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Shipping & Transport Bulletin December-January 2019


The outline agreement between the EU and the UK setting the terms of the UK’s withdrawal from the EU is not the end of the road. The withdrawal agreement has to be ratified by the European Council and Parliament and by the UK Parliament. A no-deal is still possible which would mean the UK and the EU trading on WTO terms which is how the EU trades with most other countries. The outline withdrawal agreement foresees that the UK will remain in the customs union for a period to be determined. Customs unions don’t necessarily guarantee frictionless trade as can be seen in trade between Turkey and the EU. So, the details will determine what checks may or may not be necessary. We still might see those queues at Dover and Calais.

UK Parliament paper on Brexit and Transport

On 8 November, the UK House of Common library published a comprehensive analysis of the questions to be answered for transport after Brexit including examining a no-deal situation. The paper looks in detail at Aviation, Rail, Road and Vehicles, Ports and Maritime. The most prominent complaint by the transport industry is uncertainty. For the aviation industry, like in other service sectors like banking and finance, the EU has made it clear that a paper switch in residence from the UK to the EU will not satisfy EU residency requirements. A no-deal for aviation could chaos as individual routes and permissions would be needed. For Ports the main concern in a no-deal situation will be the changes to customs, border and immigration processes and the delays and knock on effects that this will create.

For the Maritime sector the UK Department of Transport published two documents in September dealing with maritime security and seafarer certificates of competency in case of a no-deal.

The House of Commons paper is a very useful check list of all the regulatory issues that will have to be addressed in attempts to keep the status quo between the UK and the EU.

Spitzenkandidaten or who will run the next Commission

The term of the European Commission ends on 31 October 2019. By that time a new team will need to be in place. Each Member State has the right to nominate a Commissioner meaning that the next Commission will have 27 Members. The key job is that of the President. The President is nominated by the Council and must be approved by the Parliament. There are no clear rules as to how this should be done. This is where the Spitzenkandidaten comes in. The main blocks in the European Parliament, the right, the left, the greens, the liberals will all nominate a single person to be their candidate to become the Commission President. The candidate of whichever block wins the most seats in the European Parliament elections in May 2019 will be the Parliament’s nominee for the Presidency. However, the Council has not committed itself to nominating the candidate that emerges from the European Parliament elections. The Council did so last time when Jean Claude Juncker was the spitzenkandidaten for the right. Does once make a tradition? We will have to wait and see.

European Commission-Iran workshop on Maritime Transport

A technical workshop took place between the Iranian Ports & Maritime Organization (PMO) and the European Commission on 12-13 November 2018. The workshop addressed environment protection and the IMO carbon dioxide emission reduction initiatives, efficiency of ports, safety and cooperation on safety and the need for greater investment. The workshop did not address the overarching problem facing EU-Iran relations which is the re-imposition of sanctions on Iran by the US. The US sanctions regime is extraterritorial meaning that any enterprise which does business with Iran is liable to sanction in the US if it does any business, including financial and dollar-based business, in the US or via US enterprises. These workshops are important and serve a long-term purpose but the reality is that EU-Iran trade and investment is currently severely handicapped.

UK Fishery producer organizations

In October the Commission sent a reasoned opinion to the UK on the recognition of fishery producer organizations. A reasoned opinion is considered the most serious step in a procedure which can lead to a Member State being condemned in the EU Court of Justice and ultimately fined by the EU. The Commission considers that the way that the UK has allowed producer organizations to evolve in the UK does not respect the objectives of the Common Fisheries Policy. Basically, the Commission considers that the organizations in the UK cannot carry out their function as rules enforcers and bargaining agents. This is a small detail in the bigger issue of Brexit and Fisheries. The UK wants exclusive rights to its own waters post Brexit. The EU wants continued access. There is no clear idea of what the outcome might be.




This article is for information purposes only and is not intended as a professional opinion. For further information, please contact Bernard O’Connor.

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