German shipbroker makes ‘hard Brexit’ warning

If the UK leaves the EU without a deal, the country would not have maritime cabotage rights within the region

Oct 15 2019 / Offshore Wind

German shipbroker makes 'hard Brexit' warning

German wind farm operators working with UK vessel owners and equipment suppliers have been advised to consider the potential negative impact on their business of a so-called ‘hard Brexit’.

Hamburg company Global Renewables Shipbrokers has warned that if the UK leaves the EU on 31 October without a deal, UK ships would not have maritime cabotage rights within the EU and nor would they be allowed to provide offshore supply services.

“All UK-flagged vessels will cease to have permission to work in EU waters permanently until a new regulation has been developed. But to date it remains unclear as to when a regulation will be found and come into effect,” the company said in a joint statement with maritime law firm Fleet Hamburg.

The broker, which has teamed up with Fleet Hamburg to find solutions to the looming uncertainty, said various potential solutions exist for UK companies.

These include temporarily re-flagging with the flag of a member state, said managing partner Matthias Mross.

Mross said ship operations may be afforded some protection from the rules and regulations that surround shipping as an international business, but the same potential securities may not apply to services and equipment.

Offshore operators should “look at everything that has a UK flag. Why should custom clearance issues apply only to food and car spare parts and not to all UK service companies who bring in any kind of equipment?

“If from one day to the other the UK is not in the EU, all the equipment suppliers and equipment may need to go through customs,” he said.

Some ship owners have taken measures to secure their business while “many” others have not, he said, adding that a hard Brexit presents business with a “grey area”.

“On the 1 November, how will the member states interpret the situation and with what consequences?

“Will they decide to leave things as-is or will the UK be treated as a WTO country, in which case you will have issues that will impact the workflow of a project. That will cost operators in time and money,” said Mross.

“This is a wake up call to operators to say: if you don’t go ahead with preparations, you might face some problems. The offshore wind industry can be affected just as any other industry,” he said.

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