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ESCA Urges Post Brexit

ESCA Urges Post Brexit "Conformity"

Despite the United Kingdom's exit from the European Union, the European Community Shipowners’ Association (ECSA) has come out in support of the continuation of harmonised regulations.

Concerns are now being voiced that sea traffic between the EU and the UK should not be disrupted by any post-Brexit changes, while the free movement of passengers and those who work at sea has also been placed as a priority. It is clear that the UK's importance to the EU market - with over 50% of all the country's imports and exports going to and from the EU - is a big factor in the calls to avoid a new raft of complex border procedures, which could lead to the problem of congestion.

ECSA Secretary General, Patrick Verhoeven, said in a statement: "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."

He went on to stress: "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."

The news comes as the Republic of Ireland says it expects as much as eight per cent of freight crossing its borders to be subject to checks in the post Brexit era. Trade facilitation posts will be used to to conduct the checks, placed in close proximity to border check points themselves, according to revenue commissioner Liam Irwin who was speaking to the Irish parliament's finance committee.

According to Irwin, electronic customs declarations have the potential to save time, and the majority of transactions will be approved without any complications.

The NI Freight Transport Association's Seamus Leheny broke down what the extra checks could mean in real terms: "On average we're looking at a minimum 6,000 HGV movements cross-border on a daily basis so if we're looking at eight per cent of those vehicles having to be checked, there's potentially 500 to 600 vehicles actually having to stop and have goods looked at."

There is the possibility of random checks which will be carried out by mobile units, but it looks unlikely that customs posts will be set up at borders, as they were in the pre 1992 era.

While it will be leaving the EU Customs Union after Brexit, the United Kingdom has expressed its intention to seek out new customs arrangements for the future. The onus is on both the UK and Irish governments to come to an agreement which will promote trade by allowing an efficient customs flow through one of the UK's most heavily used borders.

In the wake of the Brexit result, it was expected that the UK's EU exit would lead to a drive to strike new bilateral trade agreements with countries outside the Union. Some months later, the emphasis appears to have shifted to ensuring trade ties between the UK and the EU are not irrevocably damaged.