UK publishes no-deal Brexit plans for Shipping Industry

(Image Courtesy: Lloyds Maritime Academy)

Batch of 28 documents in total published, including contingency plans for driving licences and passports. For the maritime industry, there are details on getting an exemption from maritime security notifications.

Guidance on getting an exemption from maritime security notifications and the recognition of seafarer certificates of competency are among 28 documents published today by the UK government as part of its planning for a “no deal‟ Brexit

THE UK has published guidance documents on how seafarers and shipping companies would be affected by a no-deal Brexit, drawing the ire of the country’s largest maritime union.

They are among a batch of 28 documents in total published today, including contingency plans for driving licences and passports.

For the maritime industry, there are details on getting an exemption from maritime security notifications.

“In a „no deal‟ scenario EU countries would be unable to issue exemptions to vessels, irrespective of registration / flag, operating scheduled services from the UK,‟‟ the technical notice says.

A separate document tackles the recognition of seafarer certificates of competency if there is no Brexit deal.

The paper says currently every European Union country recognises the certificates issued to seafarers by the other EU countries.

“The certificates must be accompanied by an „endorsement attesting such recognition‟, issued by the country recognising the certificate,‟‟ the document says.

It says that in the event of no deal the UK government will to continue recognising all certificates it currently recognises, including those issued by EU and European Economic Area countries after exit.

It will also seek third-country recognition of UK certificates by the EU under the international standards of training, certification and watchkeeping convention.

The main opposition Labour Party’s shipping spokesperson Karl Turner told Lloyd‟s List the government was failing to protect the interests of UK seafarers, passengers, employers and the country‟s maritime skills base.

“Rather than seeking a transitional deal to buy more time to ensure reciprocal recognition of seafarers‟ qualifications, the government is pretending to show willing whilst doing nothing to prepare for a skills shortage,” he said.

UK-based maritime union Nautilus International slammed the government for not addressing questions about the long-term arrangement for mutual recognition, which they claim reveals the government is actually unprepared for a no-deal Brexit.

Nautilus International general secretary Mark Dickinson wrote in an e-mailed statement: “Whilst the government says that this is „not an outcome that we expect to occur‟, ministers were meeting only today to discuss no deal preparations and this notice does not tell our members what they should be doing now to mitigate the impact of the UK crashing out of the EU without an agreement.”

Seafarers’ certificates

Nautilus reported that according to the European Maritime Safety Agency, the UK issued 24,375 Certificates of Competency to masters and officers in 2016, the most by any EU member state. Meanwhile, 3,410 seafarers with original CoCs issued in the UK had valid endorsements by other EU member states.

The government clarified that EU countries‟ endorsement of UK CoCs issued before the country‟s exit from the bloc would be valid until their expiration date.

“So if you‟re a UK-trained seafarer with an endorsement issued by an EU country, you would be able to continue working on board vessels flying the flag of that country until the endorsement expires,” the government said.

Those countries that want to keep recognising UK CoCs after Brexit will have to address the European Commission directly to secure permission.

“The European Commission, with the assistance of the European Maritime Safety Agency, would assess our training and certification systems under this procedure,” the government said.

The commission put forward a proposal in May 2018 to simplify regulation on the mutual recognition of seafarers within the union. Nautilus said feedback had been submitted and deliberations were entering the second round with the European Community Shipowners‟ Associations drafting a position paper.

“It is disappointing that the technical document makes no acknowledgement of the ongoing consultation on amending the EU directives in question, and contains no much-needed advice to seafarers on what they should or could be doing to ensure their future employability,‟ he pointed out,” Mr Dickinson said.

The UK‟s Brexit Secretary Dominic Raab said a no-deal Brexit was unlikely, but that the government would manage the challenges.

“With six months to go until the UK leaves the European Union, we are stepping up our „no deal‟ preparations so that Britain can continue to flourish, regardless of the outcome of negotiations,” Mr Raab said ahead of publication of the papers.

Other technical notices published today cover the impact on areas including environmental standards, mergers, data protection and certification for manufacturers.

“Our members deserve better than this,” Mr Dickinson said.

“In or out of the EU, Britain depends on shipping and seafarers and my members need clarity and certainty for the years ahead, to ensure that Brexit does not create new barriers to their continued employment. This document does not do that.”

(Source: Malta Winds)

Sea News, October 15

Baibhav Mishra
Author: Baibhav Mishra

Associate Editor, Sea News