If there’s one thing for certain following the aftermath ofthe Brexit referendum, it’s that everything is, well, uncertain. Since thehistoric vote took place on June 23, conjecture has run rampant about what itmeans for not only Brits, but for the global market. And as for superyachtcrew? Well, the answer to that unfortunately is an ambiguous question mark aswell.
Yet, that doesn’t mean you should panic.
“No one knows what’s going to happen,” says John Leonida,partner at international law firm Clyde & Co. “We can’t make anypredictions because we haven’t invoked Article 50, and even then it will be atleast two years before something happens. Right now, it’s just purespeculation.”
As Benjamin Maltby, assistant at international law firm Ince& Co, puts it, everything remains as-is for the moment. “No matter whatelse may come of negotiations over the next two years, it seems increasinglylikely that if the UK is to enjoy the huge benefits of free trade with the EU,the UK must continue to accept the freedoms of goods, services, movement,employment, and establishment of EU nationals. And — as this always has to workboth ways — it will be business as usual for British workers in the EU.”
He points out that the EU has always worked on principles ofopen borders and reciprocity. So France is happy to have Brits live and work inAntibes, for example, as long as French workers have the right to come toLondon.
The good news is that no matter the Brexit, if you’re basedsomewhere in the EU, the same laws will still apply and won’t change due to thecontract of employment, according to Leonida. The issue, he says, arises if thisfreedom of movement of labor disappears. Then the question of whether Britishcrew could technically work in France may arise. The answer? “That, we don’tknow,” says Leonida.
“If Brexit results in the UK not staying in the singlemarket, but putting up barriers to free movement of persons from the EU at theend of the two year period, then the EU will reciprocate with barriers to UKnationals, potentially meaning that UK nationals will need visas to visit theEU (other than for short holiday visits),” says Maltby. “Most commentatorsbelieve that those EU workers in the UK will be able to stay but barriers wouldapply to new arrivals, in which case the same would be true for UK nationalsliving and working in the EU.”
He points out that other changes are likely following animpending Brexit, such as the phasing out of rights to EU reciprocal medicaltreatment for UK nationals. The worst case scenario for UK crew, dayworkers,dockwalkers, and shoreside staff, he says, is that they’re placed in the same positionas those from the Schengen Area Annex II countries by virtue of an amended EUCouncil Regulation (EC) 539/2001, which would place them in the same positionas U.S., Canadian, Australian, and New Zealand crew. Thus, they wouldn’t need avisa to enter the Schengen Area, but would need permission to stay for longerthan 90 days or for employment ashore, which Maltby claims is still a morefavorable position than those from Annex I countries, including South Africa,the Philippines, Russia, and India.
Keep in mind, though, that at this point, these scenariosare all just possibilities.
“Whatever happens will be in part dependent on how far theUK government wants to disengage itself from the EU and how far the EU wants topush the UK away,” says Leonida, adding that whatever happens, the superyachtindustry will have specific questions that will need answering, such as thestatus of the UK Red Ensign, in all its iterations. “Will it be a foreign flagwith no right to operate commercially in EU waters? Or will the current systemof not enforcing cabotage rights continue, allowing UK, Cayman, and other flagsto operate commercially continue?” Leonida says.
Leonida emphasizes that no one knows when or on what termsanything will occur and further stresses that everything at this point is pure speculation.The bottom line? Until Article 50 is invoked, there is no change. And if it isinvoked, change won’t happen for at least two years. So, sit tight, Britishcrew.