The European Sea Ports Organisation has called on Brexit negotiators to prioritise maritime transport in the second phase of negotiations.
“Europe’s ports need certainty and time to adapt to the new realities post-BREXIT if they are to continue to perform their vital function as nodes in intra-European supply chains. If the current short-sea fluidity is compromised, there will be no winners,” said chairman Eamonn O’Reilly.
Short-sea fluidity for roll-on/roll-off and short sea services between the UK and EU-27 should be a central objective, it said.
“The reintroduction of border controls at the EU-UK borders risks to turn ports into bottlenecks and disrupt long established supply chains. ESPO therefore calls upon the Brexit negotiators to seriously consider the financial, operational and spatial consequences of the reintroduction of border controls in ports and its wide implications for the logistic industries and communities around port terminals in the decision making on the future EU-UK relationship.”
It argued that if border controls were to be reintroduced, some ports would have to reorganise the layout of their terminals, as well as to make investments in the development of innovative IT solutions and additional workforce to cope with the increase of administrative burden.
“ESPO therefore urges the Commission to consider the costs of making ports that depend on EU-UK trade “Brexitproof”, in the preparations of the new Multi-annual Financial Framework.”
And it pointed out that shippers and operators that are exclusively trading with EU member states would not have the administrative and logistics services nor the experience to export to countries outside the customs union. “Companies, especially those operating exclusively at EU level, should be informed and advised at an early stage to enable them to prepare for the likely increase in customs declarations and procedures to comply with border control requirements.”
“Last but not least, for European ports, an appropriate EU-UK trade agreement, which preserves trade and economic growth, is an important condition of a successful Brexit. In the absence of such a trade agreement, import tariffs on both sides will make goods traded between the UK and EU-27 more expensive. This could disturb existing trade routes and have a negative impact on the job creation and industry located within ports as well as on the overall traffic of ports that rely on EU-UK trade.”