ECSA welcomes TRAN opinion on future EU-UK partnership and urges rapid advancement of the talks in view of the looming deadline

29 May 2020

The European shipping industry fully welcomes the opinion adopted yesterday by the Committee on Transport and Tourism (TRAN) at the European Parliament. This opinion will be included in the final EP Recommendations on the negotiations for a new partnership between the EU and the UK of Great Britain and Northern Ireland to be voted in June. However, progress needs to be made urgently in the negotiations for a smooth transition in the supply chain to take place.

"The current close ties between the EU and the UK should be maintained, especially where it concerns maritime transport. The amendments adopted by the TRAN committee reflect the need of companies on both sides of the Channel for optimised fluidity of cross-border trade, as well as the fact that the free movement of passengers, seafarers, offshore and onshore staff is priority," said Martin Dorsman, ECSA Secretary-General, stressing that “our members are literally ensuring the connectivity between the EU and the UK, both in terms of transportation of EU and UK imports and exports of goods, as well as transportation of citizens. As a consequence of these close economic ties  it is a necessity to include a substantive chapter on maritime transport services as part of the future agreement. We thank the EP TRAN MEPs for recognising this important role of maritime transport for the future partnership.”

The text also stresses the need for reciprocal and equal market access for international maritime transport services, as well as cabotage and the offshore sector. In ECSA’s view, this is very important and will help sustain the trade and energy interdependence of both the EU and the UK.

“For the longer term, ECSA emphasises the need for the EU and the UK to stay on par as attractive locations for industry to do business and hence the need to maintain a level playing field and is pleased to see this recognised in the TRAN opinion,” continued Mr Dorsman.

Shipping is a global business that needs global rules and common standards. Any regionalisation is detrimental to the smooth, safe and efficient functioning of shipping operations including the movement of seafarers and land-based personnel.

ECSA therefore supports the TRAN’s opinion that requests the future partnership to envisage a common approach with regard to the global policy framework of the IMO, the OECD, the ILO and the WTO. ECSA is of the view that avoiding divergence in regulation relating to maritime affairs should be recognised as a guiding principle.

ECSA hopes – and strongly encourages - that the negotiators are able to move forward with the discussions as soon as possible, due to the urgency posed by the approaching deadline.

ECSA also warns that a smooth transition cannot take place as long as there is no certainty and clarity on the terms of the future relationship. Shipping companies are only one part of the whole supply chain and rely on the preparation and readiness of others, including authorities in the EU and the UK. The lack of clarity has made it very difficult for all parties within the supply chain to prepare. This is especially the case for the smaller customers of the shipping companies, which lack the necessary human and financial resources. European shipowners therefore underline the necessity of getting clarity and certainty well in advance of the day the formal future relationship will begin. Once there is clarity and certainty, industry also needs the necessary time to prepare for and implement the new rules.