Brexit ‘dividend’ with binned EU red tape set to offer a massive boost

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Scrapping EU-era red tape which has restricted British ports for decades will massively increase flexibility and improve competitiveness, the British Ports Association (BPA) has said.

Brussels legislation relating to port services provision known as the EU Port Services Regulation (PSR), introduced towards the end of the UK’s membership of the bloc, will be revoked in accordance with the recently passed Retained UK Law Act, the Department for Transport confirmed this week.

The decision will permit UK ports to continue using British rules on governance and to maintain their existing flexible regimes and arrangements with service providers.

British Ports Association, representing ports which collectively facilitate 86 percent of Britain’s seaborne trade, including most of the operators covered by the rules, hailed the decision as proof of the “Brexit dividend”.

Chief Executive Officer Richard Ballantyne said: “This is excellent news for the UK maritime industry as the PSR created an inflexible system with additional costs for ports and shippers.

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“The announcement means our industry can continue to operate without the unsuitable rules that could have delayed and frustrated valued port users and service providers.

“Unlike other ports communities, our industry is underpinned by financial, strategic and regulatory independence as well as a strong element of competition and customer service.”

Mr Ballantyne added: “These rules were originally devised to suit other European port sectors where there was an absence of similar rules but with more state involvement.

“We have therefore long since maintained that they are not suitable in the UK.

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“Indeed we already have clear and well-understood existing rules and arrangements in place, which results in port users in Britain being served by a modern and dynamic customer-facing ports sector.”

The outcome of a DoT consultation on a proposal to repeal the EU port services legislation which ran from March 22, 2022 to April 22, 2022, was published on Monday,

This revealed that of a total of three responses, two were “strongly in favour of proceeding as planned”, while the third was “content with the proposal”.

In a statement delivered in the House of Lords on September 16, 2021, then-Brexit minister Lord Frost said: “We also intend to repeal the EU’s Port Services Regulations – which is a very good example of a regulation which was geared heavily towards EU interests and never worked properly for the UK.”

Speaking to the transport, trucking and logistics news website TransInfo last year, maritime legal expert Jonathan Moss said: “Whilst the UK has similar challenges to European ports, including container vessels increasing in size, bottlenecks and container prices soaring, the majority of UK ports have a different operating model to the EU because they are privately owned.

“UK ports generally consider themselves to be highly efficient and commercially autonomous.

“If the PSR was deviated from, it would mean that additional regulations that promote competition would not need to be adhered to.

“This would be an advantage considering that there is already healthy competition between the ports in the privately operated system in the UK.”

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