The UK’s preparations for leaving the EU continue, with the EU Withdrawal Bill – which transposes all EU law into UK law at the point of exit – passing its final Parliamentary stages and pressure increasing on the Government to set out its preferred ‘end state’ relationship with the EU after Brexit.

Further to agreements reached last December and in March, both sides are now working on finalising the legal text of the Withdrawal Agreement, to take effect from the end of the Article 50 period on 29 March 2019. This will address areas including the UK’s ‘divorce bill’, the rights of EU citizens in the UK and vice versa and commitments relating to the Northern Ireland border.

After withdrawal, a twenty-one-month implementation period is expected to commence, lasting until 1 January 2021, during which the UK’s current relationship with the EU will remain, though UK representatives will no longer be present in the EU institutions.

A political agreement between the UK and EU setting out heads of terms on their relationship after the implementation period is also due to be published this autumn, following the European Council meeting in October. Accordingly, further details on the UK’s position on this ‘end state’ relationship will emerge during the summer and early autumn, including in the publication of a Brexit White Paper during the week commencing 9 July and also an Immigration White Paper expected in the coming months.

RYA priorities

Taken together, these documents will provide further information for the recreational boating community on how the sector will be impacted by Brexit from 2021, including in relation to customs procedures, border controls on recreational craft, seasonal cruising and the ability of those who hold RYA qualifications to easily work elsewhere in the EU on a seasonal basis.

Over recent months, the RYA has been in touch with ministers and officials across government to ensure that the needs and concerns of recreational boaters are heard in the negotiations.

On customs, the Government has been exploring two options for the future UK-EU relationship: Maximum Facilitation (‘MaxFac’), focused on utilising new technology and streamlining and simplifying customs checks, and; a New Customs Partnership with the EU, with the UK mirroring the EU’s requirements for imports from the rest of the world where their final destination is the EU.  It has been reported that a third option may also be considered. Further information on the Government’s preferred option is expected to be included in the forthcoming Brexit White Paper.

UK-EU negotiations over the summer may also include further discussions on the status of Union goods on the market at the point of the UK’s departure from the EU. Both the UK and EU have previously stated their commitment to goods which remain compliant with EU standards being able to continue circulating within the EU after Brexit, based on position papers published by both sides.

In the months ahead, we will continue our dialogue with government to argue for a Brexit deal which does not impose unreasonable customs costs, as well as additional disruption and red tape, on recreational boaters every time they travel between the UK and EU. We will also argue for a reasonable border control regime for recreational boaters, if and when they travel to and from the EU.

Lobbying success

Following a joint letter with the British Association of Snowsport Instructors on the subject of seasonal workers in the boating and snowsport sectors, which was published in the Daily Telegraph in May, Brexit Minister Lord Callanan wrote to the RYA to provide further information on the Government’s intentions in this area.

We are pleased to report that the Minister recognised the need of businesses across the UK and EU to employ the people they need and said that the Government was carefully considering its options in this area and the potential impact on different categories of people.

We were also pleased to read of the UK Government’s strong support for including rights to onward movement and the ability to work across EU borders in its future agreement with the EU. The RYA is committed to working with the Government to feedback on and help develop proposals in this area in the coming months.

We will issue a further Brexit update following the publication of the Brexit White Paper. In the meantime, should you require any further information about the RYA’s Brexit activity, please contact the Cruising, Legal and Government Affairs team at brexit@rya.org.uk.