Lack of Brexit equality ‘unfair and resented’ says Knox-Johnston for Cruising Association

The Cruising Association (CA) has officially started campaigning to reduce the impact of Brexit on British small boat cruisers. It comes as no surprise, MIN recently reported on the challenges facing boat owners in light of Brexit.

In a letter to Oliver Dowden, MP, secretary of state, Department of Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, the CA’s Patron, Sir Robin Knox-Johnston calls the lack of equality resulting from Brexit ‘unfair and resented’. He’s asking for consideration of small boat sailors voyaging on Schengen’s waters, for whom, he says, “the 90-day limitation is an existential threat to our maritime culture.”

The campaign is particularly focused on the Netherlands, Greece, Spain and Portugal where the CA is lobbying for a 180-day cruising visa separate from the Schengen 90-day visa. The CA is also exploring opportunities for a simplified application process to the existing long-term tourist visas available for France and Sweden.

Along with other groups such as second home owners, professional musicians, academics, etc. the CA has previously tried to engage with MPs and ministers on this issue but, thus far, and with Covid taking priority, it says there has been little will to address the 90/180 problem.

EU rules allow individual EU countries to issue long-term visas and a recent report that the government is now considering addressing the problems for professional musicians is encouraging, says the CA. It’s making the case that any solution should also cover sailing and motorboat cruising.

In the letter, the argument’s put forward the Schengen 90 /180 limit, that now applies to UK citizens, will cause severe difficulties and is unfair.

“We are delighted to welcome visiting EU yachtsmen but we want equality. This is not what we expected from Brexit. It is unfair and resented and it particularly effects the 30,000 British sailors who currently keep their boats within EU waters,” writes Knox-Johnston.

“Could I ask on behalf of all British sailors that whilst seeking to resolve the difficulties now facing touring musicians, your working group also recognises the needs of amateur sportsmen and specifically our small boat sailors voyaging on Schengen’s waters, for whom the 90-day limitation is an existential threat to our maritime culture.”

Julian Dussek, CA president and 180-day campaign spokesman, says: “Whilst we can’t be certain that this approach will succeed we are also directly approaching key cruising countries to seek 180-day cruising visas for members.

“In parallel, our members will contact marinas, harbour authorities and marine service businesses requesting that they speak directly to their local politicians on the CA’s behalf.”

Each EU member country can set its own policy for visas and permits of more than 90 days, hence the CA has its ‘local’ teams working out the best strategy for each country.

Images courtesy of the Cruising Association.

3 responses to “Lack of Brexit equality ‘unfair and resented’ says Knox-Johnston for Cruising Association”

  1. Ian Park says:

    As a 2nd home owner (predominantly skiing for whole of winter) and cruising live aboard for the summer this affects me greatly. I am confined to UK waters if I spend 45 days skiing! Whereas EU sailors have 6 months access to UK waters. As a 70+ sailor I remember hoisting the Q flag entering Cherbourg without having to calculate how many days I had left before a forced departure whatever the weather and sea state!
    Many thanks for taking his up p.
    Ian Park
    Royal Welsh Yacht Club, Ocean Cruising Club.

  2. Alex M Blackwell says:

    As “you”, and that is you as Britons, voted to exit the EU with all the consequences that you were supposed to be fully aware of and clearly were not, as you were not given the full picture by your leaders (and their outside influencers), you have two options: Grin and bear it, or reverse the decision. Demanding that other countries bend their rules because of ‘your’ collective decision is unfair and unjust.

    As an EU citizen, I would of course prefer Britain returns to the EU, as Brexit is hurting everyone and not just the British Cruisers, who collectively should have known better.

    Apologies for the bluntness, but seeing this article made it necessary. And I am a CA member amongst other cruising organizations.

  3. Alan Franklin says:

    I commend all efforts to redress this issue, which is surely one of equality and fairness. It is said that EU rules allow for individual EU states to negotiate longer term visas and I cannot see how it is not advantageous to them financially to agree to longer visas. I understand individual organisations promoting this for their members, but this really an issue for all UK citizens and the UK government should act on this basis.