Commenting on the publication of the Great Repeal Bill, the British Ports Association’s Chief Executive, Richard Ballantyne today suggested that the Government’s statements regarding the smooth transition in respect the legislative environment need to be reinforced with assurances on cross border customs arrangements.
The Bill was published on the day that the head of the National Audit Office, Sir Amyas Morse, warned that the UK would not have a new customs system in place by the time it left the EU.
Commenting Mr Ballantyne said:
“At the beginning of the historic Brexit negotiations we have been highlighting some of the potential implications of leaving the EU now facing parts of the freight and maritime sector, particularly at ‘Roll-on Roll-off’ ferry ports that handle HGV traffic.
Leaving the Customs Union will almost certainly mean that freight carriers moving between the UK and the EU will be required to provide customs declarations, potentially leading to congestion at ports.
It is vital that the new customs arrangements are non-disruptive and in place in time to ensure that important parts of the freight and ports industry is not faced with a ‘cliff edge’ Brexit scenario.”
Specifically, on the Repeal Bill he continued:
“Post Brexit we will be calling for the EU Port Services Regulation to be repealed as it is unwanted and unnecessary in the UK’s competitive ports sector.
We will also be encouraging the Government to give real consideration to amending legislation which could allow for fast track planning and consenting at ports to help stimulate economic growth and trade.”
Under the proposals the Repeal Bill, which is formally known as the European Union (Withdrawal) Bill, will repeal the European Communities Act 1972, and is designed to convert all existing EU legislation into British law. These laws will then be subject to amendment by the UK Parliament at a later date, though it is currently unclear which parts the Government will seek to amend after Brexit and which aspects will be retained in full. This will, presumably, include customs rules but significantly agreements between the UK and the EU on the requirements for trade and new customs declarations are yet to be discussed.