Brexit has been identified as my Department’s highest strategic risk and the Department along with other Government Departments and key Agencies, has been preparing for Brexit for three years. The maritime side of my Department has participated extensively in these preparations. Consultations regarding Brexit on the maritime side with key maritime stakeholders have included a Transport and Logistics All Island Sectoral meeting in Dundalk in January 2017, three Brexit Maritime Transport Workshops / Seminars (in April 2017, March 2018, and January 2019) with a further Maritime Transport Workshop / Seminar planned for September 2019.
Brexit was a key focus in discussions between the maritime side of my Department and individual Irish ports in 2018 and 2019 to date. Two Dublin Port Brexit Workshops have been held (in February and May, 2018), and 18 meetings have been held by the maritime transport side of my Department at individual ports where Brexit has been discussed during 2018 alone. Ports have continued their preparations for the UK’s departure from the EU by examining all possible options to avoid delays to goods transiting through their facilities, and by adjusting their infrastructural plans and they, as well as shipping companies, continue to examine possible new trade routes to mainland Europe, avoiding the landbridge through the UK.
Eight meetings have been held with shipping companies and shipping interests in January and February 2019, and these discussions with shipping companies have been continued by my Department since then, while the Irish Maritime Development Office (IMDO) have been consulting extensively with the Maritime sector, including shipping, port and other maritime interests, regarding Brexit issues on an ongoing basis.
Five ‘Brexit-related’ Marine Notices have been published by the Maritime side of my Department. These are Marine Notice No 7 of 2018. (March 2018) regarding Industrial Products, Seafarers Certificates of Competency, and Maritime Transport, Marine Notice 23 of 2018 (June 2018) regarding Maritime Transport / EU Ship Recycling Regulations, Marine Notice No. 34 of 2018 (September, 2018) regarding Preparedness in general, including legislative changes necessary at EU level regarding the Connecting Europe Facility, and regarding the transfer of the assessment of two recognised ship inspection and survey organisations from the UK, Marine Notice 37 of 2018 (October 2018) regarding Maritime transport security, and Marine Notice 1 of 2019 (January 2019) regarding monitoring and verification of CO2 emissions from maritime transport post-Brexit.
The Maritime side of my Department has drafted legislation regarding pilotage exemption certificates which was included in Part 9 of the Withdrawal of the United Kingdom from the European Union (Consequential Provisions) Act 2019, and which is ready to be commenced in the event of a no-deal Brexit. This legislation will enable the continued efficient operation of Dublin Port and Port of Cork in a no-deal Brexit scenario and will minimise delays for vessels such as ferries which make regular visits to a port enabling harbour pilots to concentrate on more difficult pilotage assignments.
Amending secondary legislation has been prepared by the Maritime side of my Department to give full effect to a new Brexit-related EU Regulation relating to the assessment arrangements for ship inspection and survey organisations recognised at an EU level so as to facilitate the continued assessment of such recognised organisations by the Commission and any Member State that has authorised a recognised organisation to act on its behalf.
Extensive contingency planning and stakeholder engagement by the Maritime side of my Department, in conjunction with and in close consultation with the IMDO, is continuing to prepare for a no-deal Brexit. This will include a focussed awareness campaign from early September aimed at shipping companies, importers and exporters to facilitate further a dialogue between them, for example, to identify as early as possible the extent of new or additional market demands for direct connections to continental Europe.