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Agreement as UK Withdraw Clauses Breaching Northern Ireland Protocol

8th December 2020
EU-UK Deal: The agreement will be formally approved by EU member states and the UK government in the coming days. Above AFLOAT photo of freight vehicles on a North Channel ferry making an inbound sailing to Northern Ireland from GB. EU-UK Deal: The agreement will be formally approved by EU member states and the UK government in the coming days. Above AFLOAT photo of freight vehicles on a North Channel ferry making an inbound sailing to Northern Ireland from GB. Credit: Jehan Ashmore

An agreement between the EU and UK has been reached in principle on how to implement the most contentious issues around the Northern Ireland Protocol.

The agreement as RTE reports, was announced in a joint statement by European Commission Vice-President Maroš Šefčovič and UK Cabinet Office Minister Michael Gove.

As a result of the agreement the UK will withdraw the clauses in the Internal Market Bill, which would have breached the Northern Ireland Protocol, and "will not introduce any similar provisions in the Taxation Bill," the statement said.

It follows intensive discussions through the EU UK Joint Committee, which implements the Withdrawal Agreement.

Solutions in principle have been found on the question of food imports from Great Britain to Northern Ireland supermarkets, the issue of EU state aid rules, the supply of medicines to Northern Ireland and the question of the EU's presence in the North.

The Joint Committee, co-chaired by Mr Gove and Mr Šefčovič, have also reached agreement principle on the question of which goods of GB origin would be at risk of crossing the border to the south and thereby potentially attract a tariff.

Agreement has also been reached on the exemption of agricultural and fish subsidies from state aid rules, as well as a list of members on an arbitration panel that will mediate on disputes relating to the Withdrawal Agreement.

Click here for much more on this development. 

Published in Ferry
Jehan Ashmore

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Jehan Ashmore

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Jehan Ashmore is a marine correspondent, researcher and photographer, specialising in Irish ports, shipping and the ferry sector serving the UK and directly to mainland Europe. Jehan also occasionally writes a column, 'Maritime' Dalkey for the (Dalkey Community Council Newsletter) in addition to contributing to UK marine periodicals. 

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Ferry & Car Ferry News The ferry industry on the Irish Sea, is just like any other sector of the shipping industry, in that it is made up of a myriad of ship operators, owners, managers, charterers all contributing to providing a network of routes carried out by a variety of ships designed for different albeit similar purposes.

All this ferry activity involves conventional ferry tonnage, 'ro-pax', where the vessel's primary design is to carry more freight capacity rather than passengers. This is in some cases though, is in complete variance to the fast ferry craft where they carry many more passengers and charging a premium.

In reporting the ferry scene, we examine the constantly changing trends of this sector, as rival ferry operators are competing in an intensive environment, battling out for market share following the fallout of the economic crisis. All this has consequences some immediately felt, while at times, the effects can be drawn out over time, leading to the expense of others, through reduced competition or takeover or even face complete removal from the marketplace, as witnessed in recent years.

Arising from these challenging times, there are of course winners and losers, as exemplified in the trend to run high-speed ferry craft only during the peak-season summer months and on shorter distance routes. In addition, where fastcraft had once dominated the ferry scene, during the heady days from the mid-90's onwards, they have been replaced by recent newcomers in the form of the 'fast ferry' and with increased levels of luxury, yet seeming to form as a cost-effective alternative.

Irish Sea Ferry Routes

Irrespective of the type of vessel deployed on Irish Sea routes (between 2-9 hours), it is the ferry companies that keep the wheels of industry moving as freight vehicles literally (roll-on and roll-off) ships coupled with motoring tourists and the humble 'foot' passenger transported 363 days a year.

As such the exclusive freight-only operators provide important trading routes between Ireland and the UK, where the freight haulage customer is 'king' to generating year-round revenue to the ferry operator. However, custom built tonnage entering service in recent years has exceeded the level of capacity of the Irish Sea in certain quarters of the freight market.

A prime example of the necessity for trade in which we consumers often expect daily, though arguably question how it reached our shores, is the delivery of just in time perishable products to fill our supermarket shelves.

A visual manifestation of this is the arrival every morning and evening into our main ports, where a combination of ferries, ro-pax vessels and fast-craft all descend at the same time. In essence this a marine version to our road-based rush hour traffic going in and out along the commuter belts.

Across the Celtic Sea, the ferry scene coverage is also about those overnight direct ferry routes from Ireland connecting the north-western French ports in Brittany and Normandy.

Due to the seasonality of these routes to Europe, the ferry scene may be in the majority running between February to November, however by no means does this lessen operator competition.

Noting there have been plans over the years to run a direct Irish –Iberian ferry service, which would open up existing and develop new freight markets. Should a direct service open, it would bring new opportunities also for holidaymakers, where Spain is the most visited country in the EU visited by Irish holidaymakers ... heading for the sun!