Brexit – what it means for members

From the Commodore

Dear Members,

This is the first of what I am sure will be many updates, on the potential implication of the decision by the United Kingdom electorate to leave the European Union, known in the UK as BREXIT.  I cannot say how often I will give you an update from the MOA perspective as it will depend on the progress of the UK government’s negotiations and other events.  However, when there is anything of substance to report I will do so.  In doing this I will, of course, draw on any inputs provided by members via the information exchange forum as well as information provided by other yacht owners association, the RYA and other authoritative sources.  If you would like to add to the MOA sum of knowledge (we cannot not allow political comment or opinion as the MOA must be impartial), I have set up a sticky thread on the Information Exchange

Initial report 3 July 2016

Initial Report

The current situation and what is being done

The decision for the United Kingdom to leave the European Union (known in the UK as BREXIT) would have been a shock to many of us, but what has happened has happened and we must now work with what we have. I suspect that after the plethora of experts declaring anything between boom and gloom and utopia, sense will then reign and some serious negotiations will ensue. I suspect that the end result will be an accommodation that is unlikely to make life too difficult for Yachtsmen who want to keep their boat abroad since EU countries are unlikely to want to cut themselves off from one of the largest yacht customer base.  People appear to have no problem in keeping their boats in Turkey and other ports, which are outside the EU, and similar arrangements may well be negotiated to support the EU marina leisure industry.  We have over two years to sort out issues such as taxes and registration/residency for yachts and I doubt that from my time in Brussels our issues will be at the top of the list in either the UK or the EU.  However, as an international organisation of yacht owners we should not wait for it just to happen, but to support those that are in the right place to represent your interests to do so.

The organisation in the UK that has represented leisure yachting for many years and is best placed to represent our interests, and those of other yacht owner organisations with respect to BRETIX, is the Royal Yachting Association (RYA).  The MOA is an affiliated member of the RYA, and many of our member are full members as well.   With 2000 members our voice in government circles would be small, but collectively with the Westerly Owners Association, the Cruising Association and many other yacht owners and sailing associations supporting the RYA in its representation of our interests, the scale of numbers is considerable and the RYA is accepted by government as representing the leisure yacht community.  To this end I have written to the RYA of behalf of the MOA offering our support and asking that it includes in its negotiations the matter of boats stationed in the 27 EU countries, in particular for those owners who are not resident in an EU country.  Particular concerns that have been raised concern include VAT, the need for registration and the freedom of movement in and out of the EU zone.

Although there may be some additional bureaucracy, I suspect that the result of any final negotiations will not be too onerous, if indeed there is any change, since many of the maritime regulations concerning yacht owners are international and not EU specific.  Also, as many of you will know, there are many national differences within the EU nations for visiting yachtsmen as each applies many of their own rules and regulations.  This, of course, may change and BREXIT seen as an opportunity to harmonise some of the regulations, but again this is not simple and will take some years to complete.

I will keep you informed via this forum on progress, but if any member wishes to raise an issue for us to raise with the appropriate authorities please do so by contributing to this thread.

RYA statement

on the outcome of the EU Referendum
June 24, 2016, by Royal Yachting Association

[The] UK [has voted] to leave [the] EU, however this decision does not take immediate effect. The issue has divided the UK, dominated the news agenda and prompted debate from the high street to the Houses of Parliament, and in the referendum on 23 June 2016, the UK voted to leave the European Union (EU).

What happens next?

Article 50 of the Treaty on European Union establishes the procedures for a member state to withdraw from the EU. Once that is invoked, Britain will have a two-year window in which to negotiate a new treaty to replace the terms of EU membership.

The UK must first notify the European Council of its intention to withdraw. The council will then be required to provide guidelines for the conclusion of an agreement setting out the arrangements for the UK’s withdrawal.

The agreement will be negotiated, taking into account the UK’s future relationship with the EU. The agreement will be concluded on behalf of the EU by the Council, having obtained the European Parliament’s consent.

It is important to note that there will not be a change to legislation or trading arrangements for at least two years. We will not know how significant the decision to leave the EU will be until we have a clearer idea of the terms the UK negotiates for its continued relationship with the EU.

In the meantime, UK citizens remain EU citizens, the UK remains in the EU for VAT and Customs purposes and there should be little noticeable difference when sailing between the UK and other EU countries.

What will Brexit mean for boating?

Many of the regulatory challenges currently faced by British recreational boaters have an EU dimension – such as red diesel, border controls, invasive non-native species, biocides, and European marine protected areas. The British exit from the EU might have an impact on all of these issues, but the nature and extent of that impact remain unclear following the referendum.

There is also a wide range of issues affecting boating that do not currently have an EU dimension. For example, the requirement for qualifications when you go overseas is generally specified in national legislation, and is nothing to do with the EU.

Domestic UK issues such as national marine protected areas (including MCZs), offshore renewable energy installations, carriage and disposal of flares, lifejackets, light dues, and alcohol limits, are unlikely to be affected by the referendum.

Our role [RYA]

The RYA has an important role to play in lobbying European institutions to ensure that boaters may do so with the minimum of regulatory interference.

We will continue to engage with the relevant Government departments in an effort to minimise any impact on recreational boaters. It’s worth noting in this context that the European Boating Association is a Europe-wide (not an EU-wide) organisation, as is the UN Economic Commission for Europe (which created the ICC).

Whatever the UK’s future relationship with Europe, we will work hard to ensure that recreational boating is as unfettered as possible. During the forthcoming negotiations and transition period, we will keep members updated and advise them on how their boating activities may be affected.

We will also continue to ensure that legislators, regulators and other authorities understand, and take account of, recreational boating activity.”

Finally, as agreed I wrote to the RYA expressing the concerns, in particular with respect to boats moored in one of the 27 post BRETIX EU ports.  I now have a reply, the nature of which was not unexpected as no one knows the outcome, but it should be some relief to those who are involved.  It also places our concerns on the RYA agenda.

The RYA reply is below.


I responded to Gus by thanking him for his prompt reply and assuring him that we would give him whatever support that was in our power to do so.
I do not believe that there is much more that we as an association can do at this time, but we must keep abreast of the situation and if any aspects of our concerns over BRETIX slip over the horizon we must be prepared to raise the necessary alarms.

Best regards,

Paul K


“Dear Paul

Thank you for your email.

For the time being, at least, the UK remains a member of the EU and the status of UK-registered yachts kept in or visiting other EU member states has not changed.

The impact of the UK’s eventual exit from the EU on such yachts will depend almost entirely on what exit agreement the UK enters into with the remaining EU member states – which is not likely to be known for months if not years. There may be no impact at all.

As the UK Government’s negotiations get underway with the other EU member states we will, of course, endeavour to ensure that recreational boating interests are taken into account and we will keep our members informed of developments.

With kind regards.


Gus Lewis
Director of External Affairs
Royal Yachting Association
T: 023 8060 4220 | E: