news Brexit preparations in the maritime field

24 October 2019

In a letter dated 23 October 2019, the Dutch Minister of Infrastructure and Water Management Van Nieuwenhuizen provided an overview of the state of affairs regarding preparations for the Brexit in the area of ​(among other things) ​maritime shipping).

For maritime shipping, the international regulations of the International Maritime Organization (IMO) continue to apply even after Brexit. The Brexit has no direct consequences in terms of safety, environment and port state control (Paris MoU) in maritime shipping. Also, rescue operations at sea and mutual assistance are based on international agreements in the Bonn Agreement.

A point of attention is the participation of the UK in the European Maritime Safety Agency (EMSA). After Brexit, the UK is no longer a member of EMSA. In EU context, efforts should be made to continue cooperation with or participation of the UK in EMSA in order to maintain maritime information exchange.

The consequences of the recognition of British seafarers on Dutch flagships and vice versa will be limited because the current certificates of competency of seafarers retain their validity for five years, even after the Brexit. To prevent any problems, the minister advised the Dutch shipowners' association (KVNR) to extend the certificates that expire around the Brexit date prior to the Brexit. In case of a no deal scenario, after Brexit, the minister will make a request to the European Commission for formal recognition that the UK complies with the STCW treaty on training, certification and watchkeeping. Thereafter both the Netherlands and the UK can complete the formalities associated with the recognition of seafarers' certificates, in accordance with the usual procedure applied to third countries.