The liberal group in the European Parliament, Renew Europe, has published a position paper that puts forward a strategic agenda for inland waterway transport in Europe. It concludes that inland waterway transport offers great potential as an alternative to road transport: inland waterway freight vessels can carry the load of several hundred trucks, and therefore make for a cleaner and more efficient transport means. The paper calls for the Commission to develop a strategic agenda for the sector, based on seven pillars: the modal shift to inland waterway transport, the greening of vessels, the implementation of digital innovations, the transformation of ports into clean energy hubs, education and training, a financing plan, and inland waterway passenger transport and tourism.
Thanks to EBI’s liaison with Renew Europe MEPs in charge of the document, the paper also stresses the importance of recreational navigation on inland waterways, and calls on the Commission and the Member States to “further explore the potential of inland waterway cruise vessels and recreational boating, in order to boost growth, create new job opportunities, and enhance tourism in the related regions”. Through the paper, Renew Europe calls on the Commission to include inland waterway tourism in its upcoming European Agenda for Tourism 2050. Besides, the paper advocates the use of zero-emission alternative fuels and infrastructure upgrading in ports and inland marinas.
More information, together with the full position paper, can be found here.
The Committee of the Regions, the body which represents local and regional authorities at EU level, adopted in its plenary session an opinion titled “Towards more sustainable tourism for EU cities and regions”. The opinion addresses the impacts of the COVID-19 crisis on the tourism and transport sectors, supports EU measures that have been taken so far and calls for wider measures to mitigate the crisis. The opinion also advocates measures to make tourism cleaner and more sustainable, and calls for recognising the importance of tourism in EU policy-making.
EBI had the opportunity to provide feedback on the drafting of the opinion and meet with its rapporteur, Manuel Alejandro Cardenete Flores (Deputy Minister for Tourism, Regeneration, Justice and Local Administration of the Regional Government of Andalusia). As a result of such input, the opinion states that the Committee of the Regions “is in favour of continuing the work of the DG Mare-European Boating Industry working group on end-of-life of vessels with a view to developing a joint EU research and innovation roadmap to increase recycling of materials for building boats”. It also stresses the importance of promoting sustainable coastal maritime, and notes the potential of navigation and water sports for science, environmental awareness, ocean mapping and research on environmental issues.
The opinion can be found here.
This month, the European Commission published its new Sustainable and Smart Mobility Strategy, which aims at making transport within the EU more sustainable, smarter and more resilient. Transport is a crucial factor in the success of the European Green Deal (the goal of which is to make the EU climate neutral by 2050). Through the measures spelled out in the Strategy, including the 82 specific initiatives listed in the Action Plan that accompanies the Strategy, the Commission intends to deliver a 90% reduction in the transport sector’s emissions by 2050. The Strategy includes proposals and objectives on issues such as incentivising the development and use of zero-emission vehicles, enhancing transport intermodality, or putting in place the right policy incentives.
A number of the Strategy’s initiatives can be relevant to the recreational boating industry, even though they are not directly targeted towards the sector. The Strategy advocates the uptake of low- and zero-emission vehicles (including vessels) and of renewable and low-carbon fuels (including for waterborne transport). It envisages sustainability and end-of-life cycle requirements (e.g. in terms of carbon footprint or the sourcing of raw materials) and, for waterborne transport, mentions the possibility of establishing a Renewable and Low-Carbon Fuels Value Chain Alliance. Furthermore, it calls for cleaner ports, for alternative marine fuels, and for a network of recharging and refuelling infrastructure. Moreover, it stresses the need to provide SMEs with easier access to finance, and calls for investment in the modernisation of fleets in all transport modes.
The documents that accompany the Strategy also provide relevant information. The 82-point Action Plan contains several noteworthy actions, such as: exploring retrofitting and renewal schemes in various transport modes, revising the Alternative Fuels Infrastructure Directive, establishing sustainable taxonomy criteria (something EBI is actively engaged with), developing Research and Innovation partnerships, revising the maritime safety framework or revising the mandate of EMSA.
Furthermore, the Staff Working Document accompanying the Strategy, which provides a background assessment, points out the lack of mutual recognition of boating licences between Member States, noting that solving this problem would ensure free movement of people and support employment in the sector.
The full Strategy, together with the supplementary 82-point Action Plan, as well as additional information, can be found here.
The Brexit transition period will come to an end on 31 December. After this date, EU legislation will cease to apply in the UK. Although the new EU-UK relationship will depend on the agreement reached (if any), stakeholders in the boating industry will be affected in any case and should therefore be ready. Northern Ireland will remain within a special situation, staying in the EU Single Market. A notice for boating industry stakeholders on the legal changes resulting from Brexit is provided by the European Commission on this document.
Legal framework for recreational craft
The EU Recreational Craft Directive 2013/53, which sets out requirements for craft, was transferred into UK law as the Recreational Craft Regulations 2017, which mirrors the EU Directive while making necessary wording changes (e.g. removing references to EU bodies and replacing them with UK ones). The full text of the UK’s Recreational Craft Regulations 2017 can be found here, while a guiding document to help businesses that intend to place craft in the UK market (except Northern Ireland) can be found here.
Standardisation and conformity
EU harmonised standards for recreational craft (and for other products), which must be followed by businesses to conform with EU law, will remain unchanged in the UK after 31 December, although they will be now called “designated standards”. Designated standards for recreational craft are published here by the UK Government.
Under the UK’s new conformity assessment framework, notified bodies that are based in the UK will become “approved bodies” without the need to seek re-accreditation, and will be able to assess products for the UK market (notwithstanding Northern Ireland). The list of UK approved bodies can be found here. EU-based notified bodies have to apply for the same status and according to RSG two EU-based notified bodies have applied for the status of “approved bodies”.
In addition, the general rule will be that CE certificates will remain valid in the UK until the end of 2021. From 1 January 2022, CE-marked goods will have to obtain a UKCA (UK Conformity Assessment) marking to be placed in the UK market (notwithstanding Northern Ireland, where either the CE marking or the new UKNI marking will be valid). Please check here for detailed information and the specific application.
Manufacturers Identity Code
After 31 December, boat builders will have to register their Manufacturers Identity Code (MIC) on the UK register in order to place vessels on the British market if using the UKCA mark. It is advisable to do so in any case. The UK’s MIC register is managed by British Marine, on behalf of the Department of Business, Innovation and Industrial Strategy. To register a new MIC with British Marine, or to find out the manufacturer associated with a specific MIC, follow this link.
At the same time, vessels with a UK-based MIC can no longer be placed on the EU market, and hence affected manufacturers must obtain a new code from an EU Member State authority.
Tariffs and trade
After 31 December, there will be border requirements placed on the movement of goods between the EU and UK, and businesses importing or exporting goods will have to file customs declarations. In addition, business may need to provide security and safety data.
On top of that, if no trade agreement is reached between the EU and the UK, the UK Global Tariff will replace the EU Common External Tariff for goods entering the UK from the EU. The UK Global Tariff rates can be checked here. Likewise, tariffs will apply to goods moving from the UK into the EU.
There will be no changes regarding the movement of goods between Northern Ireland and EU Member States. For UK businesses trading with Northern Ireland, the necessary information can be found here.
On this page from the European Commission you can find information on getting ready for the end of the transition period, including a comprehensive Commission communication on changes after 31 December, as well as various sectoral guidance notes (on areas such as not only recreational craft, but also chemicals, consumer protection, competition, industrial products, inland waterways, maritime transport or VAT, among others). In addition, this checklist for businesses produced by the Commission also explains how to get ready for the end of the transition period. The UK Government provides information about the end of the transition on this page. Specifically, you can find guidance for EU businesses trading with the UK after 31 December on here.
After a challenging year for many of you, I would like to thank everyone in our industry for their great work in difficult circumstances throughout 2020.
We are currently doing a study on the impact of COVID-19 on our industry (watch this space at boot Düsseldorf!). One of the first encouraging conclusions is that companies are optimistic about the future for boating as a recreation and tourism activity. We look forward to discussing what the future holds and how to take advantage of these trends at boot Düsseldorf in April.
As EBI, we are by your side to develop the right conditions at EU level to help our industry thrive and develop a sustainable future. We remain committed to working with you on the key policy developments that affect our industry to represent and promote the entire European recreational boating industry.
On behalf of EBI and our Council, happy holidays and all the best for 2021!