The Government’s key priority is to take all the necessary and possible steps to ensure that trade, including priority imports, can continue to flow with the UK as a third country. The changes required to manage east-west trade flows in a no deal Brexit scenario will require a concerted response from the EU, from Government and from the relevant sectors of our economy. While preparation at all levels will help, there is no doubt that, at least in the initial period, it will be disruptive.
Given Ireland’s geographic location and physical proximity to the UK, the issue of connectivity has been a key focus in the Government’s contingency planning. Work in this area includes issues relating to aviation, road haulage and the continued effective use of the UK landbridge. Connectivity could also be affected by the additional checks and controls that will be required on an EastWest basis at ports and airports if the UK leaves the EU Single Market and Customs Union.
A crucial element therefore will be to effectively manage the new requirements for checks and controls on imports from the UK as a third country for goods coming through our ports and airports
Given Ireland’s geographic location and physical proximity to the UK, the issue of connectivity has been a key focus in the Government’s contingency planning. Work in this area includes issues relating to ports and airports, aviation, road haulage and the continued effective use of the UK ‘landbridge’.
Ireland’s global trade in merchandise goods is dependent on our international maritime and aviation links. A no deal Brexit poses a number of serious risks for maritime transport connectivity to and from the UK, in particular the movement of Irish exports and imports through the UK landbridge.
A substantial proportion of Ireland’s exports and imports, including many time-sensitive or perishable goods, are transported by truck on roll-on / roll-off (“RoRo”) shipping services:
to the UK for direct UK trade, and
onwards via the UK landbridge to the rest of the EU or international markets (mainly through the Dover-Calais link).
Currently, this trade is frictionless as it is all within the Single Market. Should the UK decide to become a third country without an EU-UK agreement from 31 October, additional customs and SPS controls will be required at EU ports and airports that facilitate trade with the UK. Goods from the UK requiring SPS controls will be subject to a minimum 24 hour notification period. The main pinch-points are likely to emerge at Irish, UK and French ports – in particular Dublin, Rosslare, and the Dover-Calais link. Dublin Port and Rosslare Europort handle almost all Irish RoRo traffic.
The Government’s priority is to take all the necessary and possible steps to ensure that trade can continue to flow as seamlessly as possible with or through the UK as a third country. Key connectivity actions are outlined in the next chapters.
Aviation has been identified as a key priority area both by Ireland and the EU. In a no deal Brexit the focus is on the risk of an abrupt interruption to flights between the UK and the EU due to the absence of traffic rights and issues relating to the validity of operating licences or aviation safety certificates.
Already some assurances have been provided in this area. The Commission has confirmed that it will propose measures, to ensure that air carriers from the UK can land in the EU and fly back to the UK (i.e. operate point to point flights) as well as measures to UK air carriers to fly over the territory of the EU and make technical stops (e.g. refuelling without embarkation/disembarkation of passengers).
Those measures would be subject to the condition that the UK applies equivalent measures to air carriers from the EU. Regarding aviation safety, for certain aeronautical products and companies, the European Aviation Safety Authority (EASA) will only be able to issue certificates once the UK has become a third country.
The Commission will propose measures ensuring continued validity of such certificates for a limited period of time. These measures will be subject to the condition that the UK applies similar measures. Likewise, the Commission will propose measures ensuring that parts and appliances placed on the Union market before the withdrawal date, based on a certificate issued by a legal and natural person certified by the UK CivilAviation Authority, may still be used under certain circumstances.
The Commission is taking action to ensure that passengers and their cabin baggage flying from the United Kingdom and transiting via EU27 airports continue to be exempted from a second security screening, by applying the socalled ʻOne Stop Securityʼ system.
Regarding the requirement in EU law that air carriers must be majority-owned and controlled by EU legal or natural persons, the Commission has underlined that it is essential for companies that wish to be recognised as EU air carriers to take all the necessary measures to ensure that they meet this equirement on 29 March 2019 (may also apply to new exit date on 31 December 2020).
Here in Ireland, the National Civil Aviation Development Forum was established in 2016 to facilitate engagement between Government and the air transport sector in Ireland – from airports to aircraft leasing to airlines. It has held regular discussions on Brexit, which have informed both the Government’s approach to the negotiations and our priorities in them, and our detailed discussions at EU level on Brexit preparedness.
On 27 March 2019 the European Commission published an EU Contingency Regulation ensuring basic air connectivity with the UK. The Regulation provides for temporary measures to ensure that, in a no deal scenario, UK air carriers can continue to perform scheduled and non-scheduled international passenger and cargo services between the EU and the UK (i.e., operate point to point flights). It also includes measures to allow air carriers from the UK to fly over the territory of the EU and make technical stops in the EU for non-traffic purposes (e.g., refuelling without embarkation/ disembarkation of passengers. Over the coming months, Ireland and other Member States will engage further with the Commission on the time limits associated with this measure.
The basic air connectivity regulation also provides for all-cargo services on routes from airports within the EU27 to non-EU countries (fifth freedom traffic rights) for a limited period of five months, providing the flights originate from or are destined for the UK. Following this five-month period, and in the absence of a subsequent agreement, UK operators will no longer have the right to operate all-cargo services from the EU to nonEU countries. However, they will still be able to operate point-to-point services to/from the UK to EU Member States.
The measures are subject to reciprocity on the part of the UK. The UK has signalled its intention to reciprocate.
Airline Ownership and Control
Under EU law, air operators must fulfil certain ownership and control (O&C) criteria in order to be classified as an EU air carrier. It is essential that air operators take appropriate counter measures where Brexit may lead to a failure to comply with these requirements.
The EU contingency regulation on air connectivity set down a timeframe for restructuring plans to be submitted to national regulators. All affected air operators licensed in Ireland submitted their respective restructuring plans to the Commission for Aviation Regulation (CAR) with the deadline set by the regulation. CAR has issued its determinations on the submitted plans and these have been notified to the European Commission; it is understood that the Commission will review all proposals. CAR is in ongoing contact with these airlines in relation to their restructuring plans.
On 25 March 2019 the European Commission published an EU contingency regulation covering certain aspects of aviation safety with regard to the UK’s withdrawal from the EU. This contingency measure extends the validity of certain aviation safety licences/certificates for a period of nine months after the UK leaves the EU. These measures ensure that parts and appliances placed on the EU market before the withdrawal date, based on a certificate issued by a person certified by the UK Civil Aviation Authority, may still be used.
Air Navigation Services
Arrangements have been put in place to ensure that air navigation services will continue to operate seamlessly through Brexit, principally through the licensing by the European Aviation Safety Agency of the UK service-provider, National Air Traffic Services, to provide services in the EU27 airspace.
On 14 March 2019 the EU took the necessary regulatory measures to add the United Kingdom to the list of countries with which it has a ‘One Stop Security’ agreement. As a result, passengers (and their baggage) flying from the UK will continue to be able to transfer at an EU airport for an onward flight without experiencing additional security rescreening procedures. The UK Government has also confirmed that the security screening requirements for all direct passenger flights to and from the UK will remain as they are today.
The Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport will continue to engage with national agencies and the European Commission as appropriate in relation to aviation matters.
The landbridge is the term used to describe the route to market that connects Irish importers and exporters to international markets via the UK road and ports network. It is a strategically important route to market for many Irish importers and exporters, especially for short shelf life products, and is primarily used for roll-on roll-off traffic.
A Landbridge Project Group was established in October 2017. It is chaired by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade and involves all relevant Government Departments, including the Department of Finance, the Revenue Commissioners, the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, the Department of Health, the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport and the Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation.
The Irish Maritime Development Office published a report on ‘The Implications of Brexit on the Use of the Landbridge’ on 12 November 2018. The aim of this work is to ensure the continued effective and efficient use of the landbridge. As a crucial first step the EU has agreed that the UK may join the Common Transit Convention upon its departure from the EU, and a number of formal steps were taken to allow this to happen on 4 December 2018. The UK’s accession to the Common Transit Convention will play an important role in ensuring access for Ireland’s goods in transit to other EU Member States via the UK landbridge coupled with a regulatory regime underpinning the movement of vehicles through a third country.
The second strand is our work with the European Commission and other affected Member States (Germany, France, the Netherlands, Belgium, Denmark and Sweden) with a view to preparing EU ports to facilitate the transit of EU products through the UK once it becomes a third country through the use of EU rules on internal transit set out under the Union’s Custom Code. This includes clarity on the application of EU rules, especially with regard to rules on SPS checks, and infrastructural solutions at ports to ensure the speedy transit of EU registered hauliers. This work is intensifying and progress is being made.
In a no deal scenario it is anticipated that the landbridge, at least in the initial period, may be subject to severe delays. Dover-Calais has been identified as a particular bottle neck. This will have a knock on impact on goods travelling to/from Ireland and the rest of the single market. The Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport continues to engage with shipping companies to explore new connectivity and capacity options in response to Brexit.
Upon leaving the EU, the UK will accede to the Common Transit Convention (CTC). The CTC includes all EU Member States along with Iceland, Norway, Liechtenstein and Switzerland, as well as Turkey, North Macedonia and Serbia. Under the Convention, goods moving from Ireland to another Member State via the UK, or vice versa, postBrexit, will move under the Customs Transit Procedure. Once Union goods are moving under the Customs Transit Procedure, from one Member State to another, through a third country, no duties or taxes will be applicable. However a financial guarantee is required for each consignment.
Since December 2018, considerable progress has been made in the application of EU rules and an agreed understanding has been reached on the continued use of the landbridge under the internal transit procedure.
Image 7: Landbridge statistics Source: Irish Maritime Development Office, The Implications of Brexit on the Use of the Landbridge (2018)
Work continues at a technical level to provide absolute clarity on the application of certain EU rules and procedures with regard to SPS controls on animals and products of animal origin.
All work undertaken to date was designed to ensure that EU and Irish operators can continue to use the landbridge in an effective and efficient way. However, use of the landbridge after Brexit will not replicate the status quo for operators and will depend on traders being compliant with a number of new requirements. Therefore, over the coming months, both Government and businesses need to take steps to prepare.
The internal transit procedure and other necessary regulatory measures will be in place by 31 October 2019 (may also apply to new exit date on 31 December 2020). However, the potential for significant delays at ports remains, as do the associated cost implications. Consequently, the use of the landbridge could become impractical for some operators and for some products.
In a no deal scenario, it is anticipated that the landbridge, at least in the initial period, might be subject to severe delays and congestion. The Dover-Calais crossing has been identified as a particular bottleneck. Delays at this and other English Channel routes would have an immediate knock-on effect on goods travelling to / from Ireland and the rest of the Single Market.
In light of potential delays across the landbridge, the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport continues to keep under review the evolving situation in relation to direct maritime connectivity to continental ports. In the context of Brexit, there has already been a significant market response evidencing the capacity of market participants to respond to shifts in trade patterns resulting from Brexit. Full details are included in the section on Maritime Connectivity in the Transport chapter.
Between now and 31 October, the Government will:
Continue engaging with hauliers and other operators on landbridge preparedness through its communication outreach programme.
Continue to work with the European Commission and other Member States on options in relation to the landbridge.
In order to make best possible use of the landbridge after Brexit, businesses need to:
Register as authorised consignors/consignees in order to avail of the Simplified Customs Transit Procedure. Further information on the transit procedure is available on the Revenue website.
Work through their bank or customs agent/logistics provider to have the necessary financial guarantee in place.
If moving animals or animal products, register with the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine to have access to the TRACES system.
International road haulage plays a critical role in facilitating Irish economic activity. Current rights to carry out international road haulage into and via the UK are grounded in EU legislation, notably the Community Licence. Ireland, along with other Member States, had previously identified this as an areas of significant concern, as in a no deal scenario road haulage between the EU and UK would be severely restricted and limited to an international system of limitedquotas (ECMT).
The European Commission, in its latest communication of 19 December, is now proposing to adopt a measure to ensure basic road haulage connectivity. In summary, the EU would ensure basic connectivity by allowing UK hauliers access to the EU, on the understanding that measures would be put in place to
allow EU hauliers access to the UK.
Ireland is engaging actively with the Commission and other Member States on these issues and to clarify further detail of how the proposed approach would work in practice for the haulage sector in Ireland.
International Road Haulage
International road haulage plays a critical role in facilitating Irish economic activity. “Rollon-Roll-off” or “RoRo” traffic between Ireland and the UK was around 1 million freight units in 2018, including landbridge traffic.
There is a comprehensive legal regime in place at EU level in relation to the road haulage sector. This regime establishes common rules on issues such as access to the profession and to the market, minimum standards for working time, driving time and rest periods. Currently trade into, and through, the UK by road is facilitated by the EU’s Community Licence, which allows international hauliers from EU Member States operating for hire or reward to move within the EU.
The Irish Maritime Development Office (IMDO) report on the Implications of Brexit On The Use Of The Landbridge found that three million tonnes of merchandise trade with the EU moves between Ireland and the European continent via the UK roads and ports network (the ‘landbridge’ route). The IMDO estimate that this equates to approximately 150,000 Heavy Goods Vehicles each year, with certain sectors particularly reliant on this route to market. The total value of our trade using the landbridge was estimated to be €21 billion.
As part of its preparations for a possible no deal Brexit on 29 March, the EU adopted a contingency Regulation on basic road freight and road passenger connectivity with the UK. This Regulation is of crucial importance to Ireland and will allow UK hauliers to continue to operate in the EU for a temporary nine-month period only, subject to the UK allowing reciprocal access for EU hauliers to the UK. The EU’s transport contingency measures are temporary and time bound, and premised on a UK departure from the EU without agreement on 29 March 2019 (may also apply to new exit date on 31 December 2020). This Regulation is currently due to expire on 31 December 2019. Over the coming months, Ireland and other Member States will engage further with the Commission on this measure.
A no deal Brexit would also have implications for other road transport policy aspects of road haulage such as road safety enforcement (drivers’ hours, rest periods) and certificates of professional competency. Preparations in this regard are underway by the competent Irish authorities with a view to keeping disruption to a minimum.
Iarnród Éireann and Northern Ireland Railways are working together to ensure the Enterprise service will continue to run post Brexit. The preparations involve a combination of contractual arrangements between the two companies, together with appropriate rail operator and train driver licensing. The essence of the arrangement is to ensure service continuity, fully meeting railway safety requirements. The companies are engaged with the independent Commission for Railway Regulation to that end.
Cross Border Bus Services
A number of contingency measures are at play for continuity of cross-border bus services in the event of a no-deal Brexit. At EU level, a contingency EU Regulation will ensure continuity for scheduled bus services to and from the UK to 31 December 2019 and preparations are in hand for UK participation in international bus agreements that will then enable continued cross-border services. Ireland is also engaging with the European Commission about possible further enabling measures.
As a further contingency measure, Part 10 of the Brexit Omnibus Act will give new powers to the National Transport Authority in relation to bus services to and from a third country.
The 2018 Irish Maritime Development Office (IMDO) report, The Implications of Brexit on the Use of the Landbridge, acknowledges that “for Ireland, maritime links represent a key means of ensuring its direct connectivity with mainland Europe, particularly in view of the uncertain evolution of trade flows passing over the United Kingdom ‘land bridge’.”
The assessment of the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport (DTTAS) and the Irish Maritime Development Office (IMDO), based on extensive and ongoing consultations with the shipping sector, is that sufficient capacity should be available on direct routes to continental ports following a no deal Brexit, and that should demand for further capacity arise, the shipping sector can respond quickly to meet such demands.
In the context of Brexit, there has already been a significant market response. In 2018, CLdN launched MV Celine, the World’s largest RoRo vessel, and in 2019 launched MV Laureline, significantly increasing capacity on the Dublin-Rotterdam and Zeebrugge routes. A Dutch shipping company, BG Freight Line, will also commence a Waterford-Rotterdam weekly freight service in July 2019.
Irish Ferries’ investment of €150 million in its newest passenger and freight vessel, MV W.B. Yeats, provides year-round freight capacity between Ireland and France of 165 HGVs per sailing or 60,600 HGVs per annum. This additional capacity alone will be sufficient to cater for a substantial switch of UK landbridge traffic to direct links to EU ports, should such a demand arise. This is supplemented by the launch, in May 2018, of Brittany Ferries’ direct route from Cork to Santander in northern Spain, and a vessel of similar size to the W.B. Yeats is due to be delivered on the Irish Sea routes in 2020.
However, if disruption is to arise, it would likely be most acute in the immediate period following a no deal Brexit as a result of a short time lag between an increased demand for direct connectivity to the Continent and a market response, as shipping companies assess the actual difficulties and then put in place the measures for a response. The clear view of DTTAS and the IMDO is that the optimal solution is for industry to respond to market changes in a timely manner. A number of mitigating actions are being implemented by DTTAS and the IMDO to encourage this. These will include a focussed awareness campaign from early September aimed at shipping companies, importers and exporters to create a dialogue between them to identify new market demands as early as possible.”
The EU has amended the 2013 Connecting Europe Facility Regulation in order to realign the North Sea Mediterranean (NSMED) Core Network Corridor. In the event of a no deal Brexit, the Regulation will align the core TEN-T ports of Dublin, Cork and Shannon-Foynes to core TEN-T ports in Northern France, Belgium and the Netherlands – as the UK will no longer be part of the NSMED Corridor. The proposed alignment is as follows:
Shannon-Foynes/ Dublin/ Cork – Le Havre/ Calais/ Dunkerque/ Zeebrugge/ Terneuzen/ Gent/ Antwerpen/ Rotterdam/ Amsterdam
DTTAS and the IMDO continue to keep under review the evolving situation regarding maritime connectivity to continental ports, and remain in consultation with the maritime sector on this issue.
Pilot Exemption Certificates
Under the Withdrawal of the United Kingdom from the European Union (Consequential Provisions) Act 2019, the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport has included amendments to the Harbours Act 1996 to provide for an extension of the period of validity of Pilot Exemption Certificates issued by Harbour companies to relevant seafarers (e.g., to Ships’ Masters on ferries) from the existing maximum one-year period to a maximum of three years. The amendments will also allow for existing holders of Pilot Exemption Certificates to apply for new certificates in the period leading up to the UK becoming a third country, even if their existing Exemption Certificate may not have expired.
UK Driving Licences
Visitors with a UK (including Northern Ireland) licence will be able to drive in Ireland while visiting, using their existing valid driving licence in all Brexit scenarios. Such drivers will not be required to carry an International Driving Permit with them in order to drive in Ireland, they just need to carry their valid driving licence with them.
Motorists resident in Ireland with a UK (including Northern Ireland) driving licence should exchange that licence for an Irish driving licence in good time before the UK leaves the EU. In the event of a no deal Brexit, for persons resident in Ireland, their UK driving licence will no longer be valid for driving here.
The average waiting time for the exchange of a UK driving licence for an Irish driving licence is currently 15 days. This compares with the exchange of any other driving licence for an Irish driving licence, taking on average 25 days. The exchange of UK driving licences peaked at approximately 700 per day in the run up to 29 March when the National Driver Licence Service (NDLS) centres extended opening hours and increased capacity to process exchanges; this is now 70/80 per day. The number of licences to be exchanged (Irish residents with UK licences) is in the region of 70,000 with approximately 30,000 exchanged to date.
There is an opportunity now to apply in good time to exchange a UK licence for an Irish licence and be certain of having a valid licence before the UK leaves the EU.
DTTAS will continue to engage with stakeholders in relation to road haulage to ensure that disruption is kept to a minimum including in relation to the EU’s basic connectivity Regulation, ports and the UK landbridge
DTTAS and the IMDO will continue to keep the evolving situation regarding maritime connectivity to continental ports under review.
DTTAS will continue to engage with Iarnród Éireann, Northern Irish Railways and the Commissioner for Railway Regulation in relation to ensuring the continued service of the Dublin-Belfast Enterprise rail service.
Ireland will continue to engage with the European Commission in relation to road, rail and sea connectivity.
A focused communications campaign was launched on 1 July to encourage UK driving licence holders to complete the exchange of their UK licence in advance of 31 October. This is being supported by operational changes at the National Driving Licence Service to cater for increased demand over this period.