EU ship inspection operators prepare for Brexit

EU ship inspection operators
© iStock/Tashi-Delek

With 60 days left before the UK leaves the EU, representatives of Member States are working to adapt legislation covering ship inspections.

Members of the EU Council’s Permanent Representatives Committee agreed on Friday to amend current EU legislation to compensate for the effect of Brexit on ship inspection operators, the organisations which work to prevent marine pollution and ascertain the safety of ships in EU waters. The European Parliament and presidency had already reached a provisional agreement on updating the legislation on 21 January.

Under the rules currently in place, Member States whose vessels fly the EU flag are able to have their ships inspected and certified by classification societies approved by the EU. Each of the classification groups is “sponsored” by the Member State which initially put them forward for official recognition. The European Commission reassesses its recognition of ship inspection classification societies at least every two years with the cooperation of the sponsor country.

The UK sponsors two classification societies recognised by the EU. After Brexit it will no longer be able to take part in the Commission’s assessment of these groups, meaning without amendments to the current rules the validity of their recognised status could be under question. In turn, this could lead to adverse effects for Member States which have authorised the recognised societies to carry out inspections on their behalf.

The amendment agreed last week will open up participation in the assessment of the EU’s ship inspection classification societies to any Member State which has authorised a recognised group, rather than only the state which originally gave authorisation. Organisations which have been sponsored by the UK will therefore be able to solicit authorisation from other Member States still in the EU after Brexit.

After any necessary final legal and linguistic adjustments, the text of the amendment will be formally adopted by the European Parliament and Council. It will come into force as soon as the UK leaves the EU: at time of writing, this is set to be 29 March.

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