The direct effect of Brexit on maritime transport

Given the actual EU legislation concerning commercial and safety aspects of the maritime sector, the consequences of a hard Brexit without a sector-specific agreement will be relevant. To help stakeholders be ready for the exit of the United Kingdom, on 27 February 2018 the European Commission published a notice on the consequences of the withdrawal of the United Kingdom in this field.

With regard to maritime traffic, Regulation (ECC) No 4055/86, that regulates the freedom to provide services to maritime transport between Member States and between Member States and third countries, applies to “nationals of Member States who are established in a Member State other than that of the person for whom the services are intended“, “nationals of the Member States established outside the EU” and “shipping companies established outside the EU and controlled by nationals of a Member State, if their vessels are registered in that Member State in accordance with its legislation“. Following Brexit, Regulation (EEC) No 4055/86 will cease to apply to all the subjects and entities established in the UK. Also in the field of maritime cabotage, according to Article 1(1) of Regulation (EEC) No 3577/92, the Regulation will continue to apply only to EU shipowners.

At the same time, Brexit will also have an impact on maritime safety legislation. Without a transitional agreement or in the case of a hard Brexit, the United Kingdom will be considered by the EU as a “third country” from the date of its exit. This means that Regulation (EC) No 391/2009 on common rules and standards for ship inspection and survey organisations, and in particular Article 8, will no longer be applicable in the UK. Therefore, the “Recognised Organisations”, namely the organisations entrusted with the inspection, survey and certification of ships for compliance with the international conventions on safety at sea and prevention of marine pollution which have been recognized by the European Commission in accordance with the Regulation, will no longer be subject to a Commission assessment every two years.

Secondly, Directive 2009/16/EC on port State control, that requires Member States to conduct controls on the condition of a ship and its equipment to verify whether they comply with the requirements of international conventions, will cease to apply in the UK. After Brexit, the “Paris Memorandum of Understanding on Port State Control” will operate instead of Directive 2009/16/EC.

Finally, the Commission has underlined that Brexit will imply the disapplication of Articles 4, 5 and 6 of Council Directive 1999/35/EC on a system of inspections for the safe operation of ro-ro passenger ships and high-speed passenger craft in regular service. The Directive requires host States (Member State to or from whose ports a ro-ro ferry or a high-speed passenger craft is engaged on a regular service) to carry out mandatory inspections on ro-ro ferry and high-speed passenger craft services to or from ports of Member States.


Sara Capruzzi